Why 2021 is a good year to become a pilot

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It is no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the aviation industry hard. People stopped travelling, airlines grounded their planes and pilots and other staff were laid off.

In the meantime, aspiring and student pilots faced a dire outlook: “will I be able to find a job when I graduate?”

If you are reading this, you are already on the right track, looking for information and alternatives before making any important decision. Here we can offer you some advice if you are considering whether to join this amazing career:

Aviation is entering a new cycle

Cycles are not uncommon in aviation. When money becomes an issue, people cut off their non-essential spending, which includes holidays and travelling. This is likely to continue happening in the future, and you should not spend tens of thousands of euros without knowing this beforehand.

But in a cycle, for every “down,” there’s an “up”. When the economy starts recovering, people start flying and going on vacation again. This is probably more true than ever now, after all the lockdowns and border closures we have experienced and forced us to stay home for so long.

In fact, while the number of commercial flights is still ~30% below 2019, the total number of flights tracked by Flightradar24 is already at a similar level to 2019, driven partly by an increase in private business flights and cargo flights, which helped maintain a higher aircraft demand despite the huge passenger decline:

Total number of flights tracked by Flightradar24 as of June 2021
Total number of flights tracked by Flightradar24 as of June 2021

Expected recovery from 2021 onwards

Whereas passenger demand is expected to recover between 2022 and 2024, depending on the region, pilot demand is driven by aircraft utilisation, rather than passengers. Therefore, pilot demand will likely precede passenger levels by a few quarters. The global in-service fleet has already recovered to more than 75% of the pre-pandemic levels, and 99% in China.

Many pilots will go back to their jobs after this shock, but some of them will retire or switch careers. At the same time, many are delaying or abandoning their flight training, which will create a short-term reduction of new pilots.

As a bigger share of the global population gets progressively vaccinated, travel restrictions are already being eased, borders are progressively being reopened and air travel demand is slowly but steadily picking up.

Global vaccination progress as of June 2021
Global vaccination progress as of June 2021

All this means that air traffic levels are expected to recover in the next couple of years, and with it, pilot jobs. First, the most experienced pilots will go back into the cockpit, but later on, more and younger pilots will be needed

For instance, IATA is forecasting some regions, such as China, the US, or Brazil, to surpass their 2019 domestic traffic levels as early as 2022, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus is planning for record production of its A320 family from 2023.

On the same line, research carried out by consulting firm Oliver Wyman shows that this will have an effect on pilots noticeable from next year, and its impact will only increase over the next decade:

Figure 3: projected pilot supply and demand

Having said that, it is very wise to have a plan B for your career, not only due to business cycles, but also in case something unexpected happens, such as a problem with your medical certificate. This backup can be a university degree, a family business, another career path, money saved, etc.

You also need to be able to answer questions such as «Why is it important to me to become a pilot?», «How will I feel like when I achieve this?» or «What is my life going to be like?». If you can’t explain this to yourself, then this is not for you. So if you haven’t thought about these questions yet, start working on them now.

On the other side, if you are a thoughtful person, understand the potential risks, and want to get a chance to experience the world of flying, go for it. Aviation requires a long-term vision and a focus on being the best pilot and person you can be.

And then, why is 2021 a good moment to start your training?

Ab-initio pilot training typically lasts 18-24 months

1.5 to 2 years is the usual time it takes to train an inexperienced to be a commercial pilot. This can increase sometimes to 3 years or more, especially for modular students working at the same time. This means that a would-be pilot will probably start looking for jobs from Summer 2023, when things are expected to be much better. And by that time, you would want to be a fully qualified, competent pilot already.

At Quality Fly, we offer three different programmes and course durations: 14, 18 and 24 months. This is designed to cater to all personal situations: from part-time workers to full-time and motivated students with a solid foundation in maths and physics.

If you decide to start your training with us, you will also benefit from our newly-launched integrated ATPL course, which reflects our commitment to being the most innovative flight school in Europe. It features important changes, such as the inclusion of APS MCC with Full Flight Simulator, gliding training, an all-inclusive approach, which means all training and equipment costs are included, and lets you pay as you go in monthly installments.

With all this, we want to help you become the best pilot you can be, while providing you with the stability required to concentrate and complete your training.

Conclusion

Therefore, now can actually be a good time to start training to become a pilot. It will still require a lot of effort and commitment on your side, as it happens in many other careers, but the joy of flying certainly pays off.

Your next step may very well be to join our next online Open Day, where you’ll be able to know more about our school and ask direct questions to our staff and other students.

We’d be delighted to welcome you as part of Quality Fly soon!

Quality Fly Open Day
Quality Fly Open Day