Emirates Fights Pilot Shortage With Its Own Training Academy

Nov 15, 2017

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There’s currently a pilot shortage — as a result, some airlines have even been forced to cancel flights, and, without planning and loads and loads of cash, the situation could soon grow out of control.

Fortunately, young people still want to become pilots, but the training costs can be exorbitant. Even with a job more or less guaranteed for life, getting the financing in order can be a challenge.

While that aspect still has yet to be worked out — besides for Emiratis, who can attend for free — Emirates’ new Flight Training Academy will help grow the talent pool by hundreds of qualified airline transport pilots every year.

The new facility officially opened its doors on Monday, Day 2 of the 2017 Dubai Air Show.

Naturally, there was a ceremony attended by United Arab Emirates top brass, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who made several appearances throughout the show.

It’s located at Dubai World Central (DWC) airport, just south of the city.

There are just three planes on site now, but once fully operational, the facility will have a fleet of 27 training aircraft, including five jets.

At a minimum, students complete at least 1,100 hours of ground training, 130 hours of simulator flying and 185 hours of actual aircraft flying.

Cadets start out with the Cirrus SR22, my all-time favorite single-engine plane, and eventually move on to the Embraer Phenom 100EV jet, both pictured below.

Male and female cadets, who typically enter the program after high school, are required to remain on site from Saturday night through the end of classes on Thursday, and are permitted to return to their families each weekend.

There’s a full state-of-the-art gym…

…and even a large outdoor swimming pool.

UAE residents are able to attend the school free of charge, while — for now, at least — everyone else needs to pay full price. Rates vary depending on how quickly students progress, but it wouldn’t be unheard of to spend well over $200,000 for a multi-year program, given the tremendous flight costs involved.

While still manageable, the pilot shortage could eventually become a major problem, leading to incredible competition and exorbitant salaries. As a result, long-haul flights with large planes could be prioritized over regional flights, affecting connecting service into smaller markets. This latest Emirates initiative will certainly help, and hopefully we’ll see other airlines follow suit around the world.

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