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April 2, 2014

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Number of pilots up but shortage persists

THE number of pilots in China rose 13 percent last year, but with commercial aviation booming there is still a major shortage, new figures reveal.

There were some 35,000 licensed pilots in the country at the end of 2013, including 18,463 with licenses for flying commercial aircraft, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said yesterday.

But the rapid rise in passenger planes in China has created a demand for pilots far beyond what academies can supply.

Analysts say that China’s domestic airlines will require about 3,000 new pilots every year, while training schools in the country can supply only 2,000 annually.

China’s airlines are expected to take delivery of 5,000 more aircraft in the next 20 years.

Domestic airlines usually recruit pilots from the seven professional flight academies across the country, including the Civil Aviation Flight University of China — the country’s major training facility — in Sichuan Province, that provides 90 percent of civil airline pilots.

Carriers also hire foreign pilots to tackle shortages.

Six Shanghai-based airlines, including China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines, employ over 200 foreign pilots.

Due to limited flight training in China, many Chinese pilots train overseas after several years of domestic study, according to Zhou Jisheng, a civil aviation researcher.

CAAC data also revealed that China has only 309 female pilots — below levels in the West.


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