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ERA regional airline pilot supply study

ERA is proposing commissioning a study to determine the challenges faced by regional and small European airlines in ensuring a consistent and high-quality supply of qualified aircrew, and is seeking input from members.

European airlines tend to recruit pilots from numerous sources and with varying experience levels, often depending on requirements which follow the historically cyclical pattern of recruitment based on retirement and attrition. Mainline and low-cost operators often have well-established relationships with Approved Training Organisations and in some cases, schemes exist where student pilots are selected by the school and airline then ‘tagged’ throughout training – this provides the trainee with a structured career path and some measure of security, and the ‘sponsoring’ airline with a predictable flow of First Officers, providing the training organisation is able to identify suitable potential candidates. Due to the cyclical nature of recruitment mentioned, when the market is buoyant, trainees can be selective in terms of which employers they wish to apply for to some extent, however when the market is depressed and jobs are few, candidates tend to take whatever they can.

As a service to members, ERA is considering working on an initiative to promote regional airlines as a viable and rewarding career for potential, current and recently-qualified trainees as well as attempting to source suitably experienced candidates to join member airlines in the right-hand seat with a view to structured career progression. This of course in addition to, and in support of the work the recruitment service suppliers do in terms of sourcing qualified Direct Entry Captains and experienced First Officers. The general feeling is that during periods of consistent recruitment, as is currently the case, there exists within Europe a two-tier system: the mainline and larger low-cost employers that engage in sponsorship or mentoring programmes have access to high quality graduates, strongly motivated and with a sense of commitment to their ‘sponsoring’ employer; the regional operators are often left with what remains. We are seeking to redress the balance.

In preparation for the determining the scope of this proposed study, ERA is seeking comments from members concerning the perceived current shortfall of either well-trained new entry pilots and suitably qualified, experienced direct entry candidates. If interested in participating, please contact for further information.