World Aviation Training Symposium 2012

Last week I attended the W.A.T.S. 2012 conference in Orlando, representing ATP. The annual gathering played host to executives and pilots representing airlines from around the world. They had all come to Orlando to discuss the current state of the ever changing global airline industry.

Although the entire group met together every day in the main display hall to see exhibits set up by all of the large manufacturers of flight simulators and other training tools, during the bulk of the day we were split into groups to attend presentations from four different dedicated tracks – Air Carrier Pilot Training, Regional Airline Pilot Training, Cabin Crew Training and Maintenance Training. The conference sessions addressed subjects such as:

• New hire issues and personnel supply and demand.
• National and international regulatory change.
• Safety and security.
• New aviation technologies and the impact on training.
• Aviation human factors issues.
• Instructional technologies and techniques.
• Simulation technologies and e-learning.
• Economic and environmental realities.

The subject that was spoken about the most in any of those different presentations was the first one on the above list; the supply (or lack thereof) of new pilots entering the Airline Industry now and the next decade.

The discussions started the same way for the most part. The regional airlines are presently suffering from a shortage of pilots, and the reasons have been discussed in depth on this blog and have even been reported on by the major news outlets. The shortage of pilots has quickly become a problem at all of the regional airlines, and they know it will get worse later this year when the major airlines begin hiring pilots to replace those being forced to retire at age 65 beginning in 2013. The Majors will have no problem finding pilots for now, they will just hire very experienced pilots who now work for the Regionals. That is the event that the Regional Airline Recruiters see coming and they have become very concerned.

One of the solutions advanced by the airline executives from both the major and regional airlines was to begin recruiting pilots early in their flight training careers so that pilots can be monitored and even assisted by the airline as they are passing through flight training.

It so happens that the perfect system to accomplish this is already in place at ATP: PilotPool allows airline recruiters to see every pilot who is presently training at ATP to fly commercially as well as those who have completed their training. will allow recruiters to contact talented students early in their flight training to develop some interest in flying for their respective airline.

I will be writing more about the WATS 2012 experience over the next week or so to write about more issues discussed at WATS that ATP is already addressing and is innovating solutions for.