Bay's pilot plan ready for take-off

By Lawrence Gullery

Hawke's Bay could cash in on the estimated shortfall of pilots over the next two decades by setting itself up as the centre of excellence for aviation in New Zealand.

Air Hawke's Bay, Hawke's Bay Airport Limited and Business Hawke's Bay are working with the Hastings District Council to take advantage of the emerging opportunities for economic development over our skies.

They believe Hawke's Bay is in a good position to fulfil the forecast demand for pilots and technicians.

Their plan to expand aviation business will be outlined by the council's economic and social development manager, Steve Breen, to the council's Maori committee meeting in Hastings today.

Mr Breen's report said the world's airlines will need another 466,650 trained pilots and 596,500 maintenance staff over the next 20 years.

"The largest growth in pilot populations will be in the Asia-Pacific region, with a requirement for 180,600 pilots.

"China alone will require 70,600 pilots.

"Current global capacity to train pilots is estimated at 15,000 per year.

"There is a shortfall of 10,000 pilots [which need to be] trained each year for the next 20 years."

Mr Breen said three groups looking to excel in Hawke's Bay's aviation industry believe the region could become the preferred training provider for pilots and airline staff for New Zealand and overseas aviation businesses.

They believe the economic benefits of attracting foreign fee-paying students into Hawke's Bay for airline training would be substantial for firms delivering aviation services, as well as the wider regional economy.

Transforming Hawke's Bay into a centre of excellence for aviation would help increase airline passenger numbers, meet the demand for more direct travel to other regional centres, and develop aviation services to support regional industry and primary production.

It would also help increase maintenance services for all types of aircraft, support existing aviation businesses while attracting new industry, and expand the corporate jet charter market.

Mr Breen said the council had helped to bring the three organisations together and had brokered links between Air Hawke's Bay and aviation service providers in Hong Kong.

Business Hawke's Bay had made contact with Chinese aviation training providers during a trade mission last year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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