Our guest editor this week is Mike Newman CEO of Ardmore flying school discussing the state of the flight training industry here in New Zealand and then moving onto the case for collaboration in accessing the international opportunities.
Can Collaboration Be The New Game In Town?
If you would like to submit an article or be our guest commentator, please get in contact. The idea is that these editorials will become part of the New Zealand aviation story that will be rolled out and told next year.
We all know about the considerable pressure that has come to bear in the pilot training space in recent years, and the potential detrimental effect this may be having on the long term health of the GA industry.But firstly, please accept my apologies in advance for telling you what you probably already know, and for my focus on the pilot training part of the industry, but as a relative newcomer to the industry, I wanted to take this opportunity to float some concepts past the wider aviation community.
Part 1. The Local Scene
Any of us with a mystic persuasion might say that the planets are aligning for what could become a perfect storm. In a very short space of time, we as an industry have been faced with a dramatic change in the flight training funding and pilot trainee recruitment business modelat a time when demand for trained pilots has reached a level not seen for a decade.
Like the property market, the business of pilot training/recruitment is cyclic, and deeply affected by the whim of the economic conditions of the day. As the New Zealand economy (as well as the rest of the world) emerges from the effects of the GFC, consumer demand for services like air travel have increased the opportunities for airlines to build their businesses.
In the past 24 months, we have witnessed a dramatic decline in the pool of experienced pilots and instructors available in the industry, but more importantly, the attractiveness of aviation (particularly Flight Instruction) as a career choice for young people, threatening the long term viability of the industry.
The funding structure of the new national Diploma in Aviation amplifies this situation as students wanting to pursue aviation as a career are now required to self-fund a significant part of their training, particularly if they wish to become flight instructors (up to $45k). And if you are in the helicopter training space, the gap is even wider. Given the new rules in play, and the attitudinal changes in our target demographic, it seems that a career in aviation may not be as attractive for young people as it once was.
The net effect of these changes is a considerable drop in demand for aviation training, the outcome that government was seeking. This is at a time where the opportunities for international flight training export earnings are at levels never seen before.
We are therefore facing a situation where, as an industry going forward, we may not be in any fit state to engage in these international training opportunities in any meaningful way.
So to summarise the key influences in the current environment, we have the following;
As a complex industry, the solutions are complex, and I appreciate that every participant in the industry has a different perspective, that each of the bullets I mention will take on differing levels of significance depending on your position in the food chain. Be that as it may, one message seems to be coming through very clearly from a number of different commentators, the industry must work together and take an industry wide approach to improve our situation.
- A government agenda to reduce demand (and cost) for flight training
- Increased short, medium and long term demand for skilled pilots in airline and ATO/GA organisations and declining minimum requirements
- Impending retirements of senior pilots and aging of pilot workforce, particularly in ag and rotary
- Increased international flight training export opportunities
- Seriously declining experience levels amongst flight instructors
- Inadequate industry support and incentive for flight instruction as a viable career option
- Substantial decrease in student recruitment rates across the flight training industry
- Structural disincentive for flight instruction as an training/employment pathway in the existing DipAv programme
- Potential lack of flight testing capacity within NZ industry to accommodate growth in the export training sector
- A government focussed on NZ aviation as a High Impact Programme (HIP) export earning industry through NZ Trade & Enterprise and Education NZ.
- Increasing compliance costs levied on industry by regulators and associated agencies affecting international competitiveness and sustainability
From an overall training and employment prospective, the government is very heavily focussed on employment outcomes, qualification completions and student loan payback periods. The more we can deliver on these outcomes, the more support we can legitimately expect from government. An industry wide focus on employment outcomes would significantly improve our industry cred in Wellington.
In the aviation business (as with many other industries), we all know that the first job is always the hardest to get for young graduates.
With this in mind, I suggest the following initiatives would contribute significantly to improving the landscape;
- An industry wide approach to establish more formal training/employment pathways for aviation graduates (i.e. bridging the gap between training and first employment).
- For ATO’s/GA operators to engage with the flight trainers to maximise opportunities for young trainees/graduates to build experience.
- For the industry (particularly airlines) to work with flight trainers to secure the future supply and tenure of flight instructors to the industry.
- Airline employer sponsorship to encourage and utilise the extensive operational experience of current line pilots interested in renewing instructor ratings and making further contribution to the flight training industry, particularly for advanced training.
- Encourage suitably qualified individuals into the flight testing environment.
- Review of our regulatory framework to remove any unnecessary barriers within Part 61 for interns/graduates to build log able experience.
Part 2. The International Scene
I have spent a fair amount of time this past year in the international markets, trying to make head or tail of the situation around the international pilot/technician shortages we’ve all heard so much about.
Just in the past month or so, the forecasts provided by Boeing for the 20 year future pilot requirement has risen from 460 to 498 thousand. And the number of technicians required is an even larger number.(source www.boeing.com)
I’m intrigued that as flight trainers, with all this impending demand around our region, shouldn’t our phones be ringing off the hook from every second ATO ops manager in the world wanting to sign on to our training programmes? So why are we having to work so damned hard?
Having attended a number of conferences on the topic, there has been plenty of commentary from some industry heavy hitters (including ICAO officials and the representatives of major industry players) but most of what I have heard has failed to offer any real solutions or direction on how this approaching tsunami of demand is going to be met.
One interesting comment to rise from the clutter was delivered by an ICAO official at the NGAP conference in Indonesia earlier this year, about the need for industry to collaborate. For the international industry to have any sporting chance of meeting demand, then organisations will need to develop partnerships with other like-minded organisations to deliver solutions to the market. So both domestically and internationally, we are seeing the emergence of a common theme.
So when we consider collaboration, what does this mean?
Firstly, let’s consider some of the “big picture” issues at play in the aviation training space at present;
Again, these issues are complex, however it seems clear that the NZ flight training industry has some work to do to ensure we are competitive in the world market. If we continue to adopt the current training model, we as an industry seem destined to remain at the bottom of the food chain fighting for the scraps at the low value end of the market.
- International Training Standards – What is the standard to which we should be training?
- Funding- Who pays?
- Regulatory Environment – Are regulators responding to the needs of the industry fast enough?
- Recruitment – Is an aviation career attractive enough to sufficient numbers of young people to satisfy demand?
- Capacity – Is their sufficient capacity in the industry to train the numbers required?
- Technology – Is the current training keeping up with technological advances?
- Opportunity – What is the opportunity for the NZ aviation training industry and how do we capitalise on this opportunity?
Further evidence of this can be provided as we see the growing presence of global “Megatrainers”, training companies who have the integrated programmes, systems, infrastructural assets (read as simulators) and personnel to deliver large scale, efficient, integrated training programmes that largely respond to the needs of the end users (the airlines), and often at a higher value.
It seems that the majority of NZ aviation training companies, participating individually in the international markets, are having only limited success with individual students being the largest proportion of success stories. And by my reckoning, these successes have come at considerable cost that makes their value questionable.
So what needs to change in order for our industry to grow in this environment?
From my personal point of view, it seems that the proliferation of rapidly expanding airlines offers the opportunity for a variety of training. NZ companies therefore need to collaborate to identify the opportunities and offer solutions to the market.
Critical factors for success might include;
A very effective way we can achieve this is to have a wider level of engagement by ALL participants in the NZ industry through an organisation like Aviation NZ, to take the time to attend divisional meetings and cooperate with initiatives to strengthen the industry and develop opportunities.
- A willingness to build relationships, support and put trust in each other.
- A willingness to share information as much as is commercially possible, maximise the collective intellectual capital that is present in the NZ industry.
- Cooperative approach to raise and maintain standards, behaviours and reputations of the NZ industry and its participants
- Development of relationships and programmes that will deliver to the needs of the international markets
- Take all opportunities to promote other NZ businesses in international markets
- Buy in from ALL industry stakeholders, including regulators (and their delegated organisations) and other government agencies to remove barriers, break down silos and create an environment that encourages export development in aviation training i.e. regulatory support for ICAO’s drive for a global ATPL licencing regime.
- Aligning ourselves as an industry more closely to international industry best practice to eliminate unnecessary regulatory clutter
By adopting a more collaborative mind set, hopefully we are able to collectively deliver growth, consistency and maximum opportunity for the wider aviation industry at a time of extreme demand.
With the end of year fast approaching, I would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe festive season.
CEO – Ardmore Flying School
Member "must knows"
November/December What's on
Protecting and Enhancing your interests
Creating Presence/Building Brand Aviation
Value ADD for members
Member "must knows"
Conference week - Napier War memorial Convention Centre 20-24 July 2014
The location is stunning, right on Napier's foreshore. The conference Hotel Te Pania is one minute’s walk across the road and is beautiful. The social events will be held at one of the region’s best rustic vineyards with plenty of wine tasting to boot.
Trades Hall is now open for booking – it is prepay i.e. booths reserved after money received. Presently we're restricting the event to 38 booths but we have the potential to open it up further if someone's interested in bringing in a helicopter or two click here
Regulations Review Committee – we appear next Thursday. As we do further research a couple of issues are becoming very evident. We've been on the bad end of a very poorly constructed review when compared to the method and approach adopted by the other side of CAA's business, namely AvSec, and relative to Maritime. The level of financial transparency and literacy is simply light years ahead. We unfortunately are paying the price of a review that threw principles out the window in favour of pillaging the commercial operating sector - I exclude a couple of groups from this comment, particularly those who can afford to pay, but in fact contribute less than the average run of the mill GA operator. Where is the fairness and equity in that? After all they benefit significantly from safe skies.
Medical certification we understand that the business systems automation review has made substantial progress and it is possible that automation of the medical certification system will be swept up in that. Interestingly there's also an off the shelf solution which has, as its essence, the devolved certification system - so our earlier concerns about their being nothing out there may be allayed. Of course the most frustrating part is we can’t tell you when these changes will be implemented. We do know that Minister Brownlee has expressed his impatience, and he is the Minister responsible for "earthquakes"
Remotely piloted vehicles – Meetings were held this week in Christchurch and Wellington with a number of the companies either developing UAVs or the technology that sits on a UAV platform. There are issues ahead with certification, in terms of airworthiness and operation, but good signs of industry wanting to work collaboratively with CAA to develop a framework that protects safety while encouraging growth.
CTC appoints Chief of Airforce as MD click here While we will farewell Peter from our Governance Board, the civilian sector makes a major gain.
November/December What's on
29 November GD on Colour Vision - submissions now due 7 March. Delay due research on CAA's policies of earlier decades
10 December NZAAA Executive and Logistics including AEANZ
11 December Aviation New Zealand Board meeting; Aviation Council meeting - as participants in the industry you are welcome to attend the Council meeting which will commence at 10 am, level one Aviation House, 12 Johnston Street.
12 December Training and Development Division, NZAF, ACAG click here and here we would encourage you to attend ACAG as this is one of those critical meetings where new Terms of Reference will be discussed and approved
Protecting and Enhancing your Interests
Unattended aerodromes we continue to work with a small group of affected operators and Airways as this matter is resolved.
Tertiary Education Strategy click here we will be reactiviting our pilot project towards the end of next week and will be looking to gather as much information as possible.
Health and Safety in Employment Exposure draft - we submitted on your behalf but unfortunately, the format for the consultation was so user unfriendly, that we couldn't circulate it. However our conclusion was there are some very good aspects such as a very sensible definition of the word practical but some pretty unusual stuff around what we term as coverage ie the line between Health and Safety and CAA. This is particularly importsnt in terms of our reporting culture encoursged and endorsed by CAA
Medical matters - if you or your staff have an issue don't forget we have one of our foremost aviation doctors, Dr David Powell, as our advisor, David's recenty stepped away from the corporate world and is now setting up in private practice. We know he is respected and we know he's a trusted partner when matters appear particularly challenging.
Creating Presence/Building Brand Aviation NZ
The stunning new New Zealand aviation promotion material (a folder and four inserts – Government and Regulator, Infrastructure, Aircraft Operators and Aircraft Support) was used over the last two weeks in Indonesia (trade show and an airports workshop) and Vietnam (visit programme). This was a real government (NZTE) and industry (us, with some brilliant photographs from companies) initiative. The new material replaces Aviation is in our DNA. We’ll be encouraging you to incorporate this material in your promotional programmes, both domestic and international.
AIRCARE™ – congratulations to Central South Island Helicopters who join an elite group of operators who have been accredited for three years.
We're working through a series of enhancements to AIRCARE™ and some more value add proposals. One of these is the extension of the AIRCARE™ programme, on a voluntary basis, to non AOC operators who want superior systems but don't carry passengers for hire or reward, and therefore, don't need to be accredited. However, they want evidence to show customers that they deliver superior operations. That is; they want to distinguish themselves from their competitiors.
We have received some, and shortly will receive more performance data about the risk profile of AIRCARE™ accredited operators. This will be invaluable in some of the discussions we have with regulators over how best to address their risks. When we have that information we will be sharing it with our AIRCARE™ accredited operators because it’s as much about value add as it is about protecting the sustainability of the industry.
As you know B2B training contracts will be exempt GST from 1 April 2014. We’ve raised with Business New Zealand and the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, concerns about the bureaucratic process overseas companies must go through to eventually ensure the training is exempt GST. They have basically replied that while a level of bureaucracy has been implemented, the end result will see trainers better off than before. The response is here
Increasing aircraft production rates are exerting pressure on training providers, especially in the engineering area. An Avia Time article is here
Value add for members
NZCAA and CASA BO105 Ground School
Tuesday 17th December @ 0800hrs - 1700hrs at Oceania Aviation, Ardmore Airport, New Zealand
$800 NZD each attendee for four  or more.
* Electronic copy of the entire BO105 Training manual
* Misc course info and Cat A diagrams/explanation all for the
students to use and then retain for future referral.
* Log book endorsed and a certificate detailing the content
* Option for practical type endorsement flight training at Oceania
Aviation upon request.
Space is limited and we are 25% full currently. Please call to reserve your position.
Aviation Safety Supplies Ltd have released a new product, a low cost Iridium Tracking Device
For more info see http://www.beacons.co.nz/iridium-tracking-device-xidc104368.html
Travel Careers & Training classrooms available AKL Airport (opposite the IBIS – 10 minute walk to Domestic Terminal). Available on a causal or long-term basis. Also available in AKL CBD. Contact Guy Domett on 07 853-0294. John Sinclair says this is the best deal on offer in Auckland!!!!
Get a GO FUEL fuel card and get *8 cents per litre discount off pump price on Petrol and Diesel
Just click here and complete a form or call direct and we’ll complete it for you
Get going - go to gofuel.co.nz
GSB Trade Card click here - if you are a member and you haven't got your card let us know. The savings more than offset membership costs.
OTHER Aviation NZ members deals