Asia is facing a huge shortage of pilots with the regions fast expanding aviation sector placing huge orders for aircraft. According to estimates, thousands of pilots are now needed to keep pace with the rapid expansion of airlines which are trying to cope with ever larger numbers of middle class travellers.
According to figures from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the region will require a staggering 230,000 trained pilots over the next two decades to keep up with regional growth and to replace those retiring.
Fast-growing Asian airlines have placed orders for hundreds of planes, as accelerating economies allow more people to fly, particularly in China and India.
Low cost carriers are also enabling larger numbers of people to travel, offering cheap flights across the region. All full service airlines, including Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways, operate low fare subsidiaries.
It is estimated that on an annual basis Asia will suffer a shortage of 9,000 pilots, with 14,000 actually needed, but training capacity existing for just 5,000. The shortfall may be made up with Western pilots.
China now has at least 1,300 foreign flight captains.
Industry experts also predict shortages of maintenance personnel to service aircraft, with manufacturer Boeing estimating that Asia will need about 250,000 new technicians over the next two decades to keep pace with industry expansion.