Regional academy to tackle Africa’s pilot shortage

Sudan has opened an academy of aviation sciences and technology, aimed at providing aviation higher education and producing highly skilled civilian pilots for the national and African airline industries.

The academy, which was opened on 15 September and upgrades an existing aviation institution, will also offer practical and theoretical training for students in aviation industry areas such as safety, security, environment and operational management, in order to produce graduates who meet the broad high-skill needs of the aviation market.

It has obtained recognition from the TRAINAIR PLUS programme of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and has signed an agreement with the University of Sudan for recognition of its higher education qualifications, according to a 16 September article by Sudan Vision.

African aviation human resources

“The signs of a global pilot shortage are mounting as airlines expand their fleets and flight schedules to meet surging demand in emerging markets,” Boeing, the Chicago-based airline manufacturer, wrote in a long-term market outlook.

Airlines will need nearly half a million new commercial pilots worldwide by 2032 as they expand their fleets, Boeing reported.

It predicted that demand for pilots would grow in all regions and indicated that airlines would have to hire 498,000 pilots – about 25,000 a year – to support new aircraft expected to be added to fleets over the next two decades. Airlines will also need 556,000 new maintenance technicians, or about 28,000 a year.

According to a story on the African Spotlight website, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s East and Southern African office indicated that Africa needs urgently to train about 1,500 aviation operators, 600 aircraft maintenance personnel and 4,000 airport operators.

An estimated 67% of aviation training centres in Africa have fewer than 10 instructors, while only four institutions have a staff complement of more than 40 instructors.

The way forward

The Sudanese academy is in line with a 2011 recommendation by the Pan-African Aviation Training Coordination Conference, held in South Africa, which called for the harmonisation of training standards across Africa.

It proposed an association of training organisations, centres of excellence, and a training advisory board, among other initiatives, to help the continent meet aviation human resource needs, as well as a continental accreditation system to facilitate the movement of skilled personnel across Africa as a way of tackling shortages of qualified staff.

The role of the Sudanese academy in such efforts could be facilitated by membership of the new Association of African Aviation Training Organization, which aims to enhance the capacity of training institutions to supply Africa's aviation industry with the skills needed to sustain the growth in air traffic.