LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.

The RAA conference in Nashville and a recent visit to KLM UK Engineering clearly highlighted that the current pilot shortage is just the tip of the iceberg – in fact, there is a lack of new people entering commercial aviation worldwide.

The aircrew may represent the glamorous side of air travel, but a lack of aircraft engineers and technicians behind the scenes needs to be addressed urgently – or the aircrew won’t have a cockpit to sit in.

The talent pool of aircraft engineers and technicians within the UK’s regional fleet is ageing and passing on their expertise to new blood is now viewed as critical for many airlines and MRO companies.

But gone are the days when a young apprentice would sit in a classroom studying books and learning off a blackboard. Today, training is done on the job and divided between online learning on iPads and taking apart and reconstructing real aircraft. Exposing these apprentices to realistic on-the-job training is what it’s about and, from the start, they learn how procedures are completed in the ‘real world’. And along with hands-on experience, VR training is being introduced rapidly across the industry. Even the smaller MRO and regional carriers are adopting these training procedures.

The lack of technicians is causing problems today, but looking across the ramp towards the future, when many of the current class of apprentices have graduated, the situation will improve. Then the UK airline industry will have long/short-haul and regional carriers with a pool of aircraft engineers and technicians who are more technically capable than the previous generation. From the boardroom to the hardstand, that can only be a positive outcome.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the LARA e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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