COVID -19 Blog No.1: The Airline Pilot Club

Andy O’Shea here taking you through the first run of a blog that we hope will be helpful. Thanks everyone who has submitted an input. We are delighted with the extent of your response so far. Petter and I will reply to all of you directly

The first key point I want to make is that most NAAs have published guidance or policy in relation to this crisis. This is what you need to consult if you want to know the truth as it relates to you and your aviation authority. We have helped you by compiling a guide to EASA member state and FAA official websites. Click here.

Below you will find two categories spilt into Individual and ATO & Operators that are queries that the Airline Pilot Club have received when we opened up the website. EASA have been included so that they can pass on their information as the situation evolves. 

Individuals 

Each of these queries have been sent into the Airline Pilot Club by individuals. Please make sure to check out the second issue of the COVID-19 blog that will focus specific questions and our responses.

Finance

People have major concerns about finance, an emerging recession and how that would affect job availability and individual ability to source funding for pilot training.

APC Response

Petter’s excellent video on whether aviation will survive gives great insight into the resilience of our industry. Using information that was also used by the Aircrew Training Policy Group (ATPG) when we were engaging with EASA and the EU Commission on The Challenge of Pilot Supply, it is accurate and relevant.

The following comment is from someone who is hugely experienced in the training process: 

This (COVID-19) is a first and I don’t think counts as the normal cyclic behaviour we have seen in our industry over the years. My personal take is that because the demand (for pilots), which was validated, was so big, that even if we return to an industry with only half the demand (unlikely), that is still a lot of new pilots needed. For sure there will be pilots available following airline closures, so that will reduce the demand a little, however the retirements (of the baby boomers) are still there, and will still happen, and that was one of the primary drivers in the demand calculation. So, my take is that it is still a good investment and there will be jobs… “ 

Personally, I can see a situation where we will deal with the virus and get life back to normal, the B737 MAX will fly  like any other aircraft and people will want  to travel as much as ever in these modern and efficient aircraft. 

FUNDING: We in APC and the AON organisation will have a solution to the funding problem when things settle down. The concept is simple, use good assessments to train the right students in excellent training organisations and have airlines ready to offer at least an assessment for an airline job, or perhaps a firm offer of a job, to the APC club member who qualifies out of this AON System

Job Market

Uncertainty about the pilot job market in 18 months’ time. Out-of-work pilots will receive priority for available jobs. How can we present a positive outlook so that a consistent supply of pilots is available to the market in 18 months’ time?

Current restrictions on ATOs are leading them to cancelling training. What can EASA do to enable some form of training that will enable students to continue the learning process during this shutdown period?

Will the schools consider any help programs for students who cannot find jobs due to the crisis?

APC Response

It is true to say that experienced airline pilots will most likely be the first to be hired. However, airlines must take a long-term view when planning crew numbers and ratios of crew to aircraft. Meaning that those who are currently in training (leave aside the current chaos due to the virus) will be needed in the future. The demand will be there. Now is a time to survive in every sense of the word and be ready when that demand kicks off. 

This is a crucial point, and one that I made strongly in the video. Continuity training is important. I am certain that ATOs will find a way to provide a service. 

We are aware of one EASA NAA that is crediting online, cyber classroom training as being compliant with the applicable AMCs and regulations. 

The ATOs are responding as best they can. In the video I mentioned one “big” ATO that was providing cash, free accommodation and a repatriation program for its students. That ATO is CAE and they are setting a standard for other ATOs. Not all ATOs have the resources that CAE has but regardless, it is good to see them doing the right thing and setting a standard.

Training

What will happen to students currently in training?

APC Response

As soon as the ATOs who make it through this crisis can commence training they will, that is for certain. Continuity training is a matter between the ATO and the student.  We would encourage all students to put a structured work program in place so that you retain the maximum amount of information. The ATO should work with you to achieve this. 

See above ref online classroom training.

Starting training

Should I start my training?

APC Response

I would be very careful right now. I would be very slow to be separated from my cash under the current circumstances.  

One of the key things we will be looking for is evidence of financial stability in the ATO. When APC is fully functional and we are providing an ATO quality assurance to the AON System banks, insurance companies and YOU as an APC Club member.

There are some very well established ATOs that I would not be worried about but perhaps others will not be as robust under the current circumstances.

Timeline

So generally, will strict timelines be relaxed say by a margin of an extra 3-months?

Will there be any extension on the 18-month validity of ATPL exams?

APC Response

Several NAAs have published clear and helpful Navigation Orders granting extensions of 4 months to a wide range of AMCs and regulations. 

Use our guide and check with your NAA.

ATO & Organisations

These queries have been submitted to the APC website by ATOs and Organisations. 

UPRT

CS-FSTD Issue 2 compliance for UPRT delivery: Will EASA issue a blanket extension to the period granted to ATOs for compliance, effectively set a new implementation date? Getting SMEs in to do the evaluations, personnel in isolation, training centres in lockdown or subject to international travel bans and moving FSTD technicians to all of the simulator locations are becoming critical issues.

UPRT FSTD experts are unavailable to assist with data and software requirements.

Please push back UPRT August deadline by any legal means to extend to 8 months.

BREXIT

Trainees are worried about getting caught in the transition EASA to UK due to not getting training finished in time. Will the period of transition be extended? Will the 6-month periods of validity following test to licence/rating issue be extended? What about extensions where revalidation’s/renewals are not possible to achieve?

Will students who have just completed MPL training and are awaiting aircraft training have the maximum period extended?

APC Response 

Both of these queries can be answered together. 

I am aware that EASA is working on a phased basis to assist NAAs and Industry. 

They are producing templates and guidance for NAAs to use when NAA Member States are writing Air Navigation Orders (ANO).  

The first template is aimed at the airline industry and the IAA (for example) has issued a very positive ANO which operators are working from as I write. 

What is then likely to happen is that a second template will be aimed at the General Aviation community and will be available to NAAs soon this week. 

EASA and NAAs are considering ways to address all areas and a third piece of work will be aimed at the “return to service” phase. This will include information for NAAs to use when preparing ANOs that relate to pilot training. It is expected that these points about APTs, FSTDs and training periods should be answered in this phase. 

We will know more after the NAAs have produced their documents. Of course, all NAAs tend to shape EASAs output to suit their own needs, which is usually bad news for large organisations but it can’t be avoided it seems 

I understand that EASA is working with the EU Commission and ICAO to chart the best way forward.

Training

Can EASA assist with international travel in EU wet training and continuity purposes. 

Will there be Financial support for new training solutions to enable continuity training.

APC Response

I understand that this is not being considered at this time but may come under review between EASA and the Commission at a more appropriate time in the recovery process.

Exemptions

EASA has issued draft notification of Exemption to Article 71 in respect of validity of licences ratings etc.  Are they considering further exemptions/assistance as more clarity on the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic emerges?

APC Response

EASA will monitor the effect of its current output and adapt/issue as necessary.

Medical Validation

How long will validity of ratings and Medical’s be extended for?

APC Response

Check NAA Website

 

Landings

Must clarify Recency (Landings/90-day requirement)

APC Response

Check NAA Website

One thing that should be noted is the industry will survive this and will offer great opportunities across a wide range of careers in the future – prospective pilots included. 

Thanks for reading. This is just the beginning. We will keep this blog updated as long as we have relevant information to bring you.

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