Too few pilots for Africa


The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in East and Southern Africa says Africa needs to train about 1 500 aviation operators, 600 aircraft maintenance personnel, and 4 000 airport operators urgently.

According to the African aviation authorities, there is a serious shortage of qualified personnel amid projections that the world would need over a million pilots and maintenance staff in the next 20 years.

Reports say 67 percent of aviation training centres in Africa have less than 10 instructors, while only four institutions have a staff complement of over 40 instructors. The data was collected from 75 respondents in 37 of the 55 countries in Africa, and presented at the Pan-African Civil Aviation Training Conference in Cape Town, South Africa last week.

Regional manager of ICAO, Maamoune Chakira, said that demand for training was “very high” and could not meet supply.

Special advisor Lerato Molebatsi, who addressed the delegates on behalf of South Africa’s Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele, said “Our challenge is adapting our training to engage the future generation of people who will fly and maintain the more than 30 000 airplanes that would be delivered by 2029.”

To counter the problem, the conference delegates sought to harmonise training standards across Africa and come up with an Association of Training Organisations, Centres of Excellence and a Training Advisory Board, among other institutions of mutual interest.

“Safety is attained when users do not think about their safety at all. Safety is attained when safety no longer becomes an issue,” said Molebatsi

She also added that following the signing into law of the Yamoussukro Decision by African heads of state in 2000, South Africa had since made effective policy measures.

According to Molebatsi, in 2006, South Africa’s cabinet approved the Airlift Strategy, which sought to achieve an increase in air frequencies ahead of demand.

“These frequencies form the basis of the various air services agreements which South Africa has in place with other African countries. The strategy of creating capacity ahead of demand allows for greater market access to support growth and competition in the air transport sector.

“Our quest is not only to meet the demand for qualified personnel, but to provide the expertise that will provide oversight in safety, security and environment, specific recommendations in response to accidents and smooth operational management,” she said.

Molebatsi said it was clear that “standardised courses and a co-ordinated approach” would provide the “excellence required if we want to maintain a good record of aviation safety on the continent”. – African Spotlight

October 2013
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