Up to 800,000 more pilots will be needed globally over the next 20 years to fly the 44,000 new jets Boeing estimates will join airline fleets. Air New Zealand is about to announce a cadet programme as it and other airlines in this region scramble to train up crew. Grant Bradley goes inside one gleaming academy already running - Emirates' $420 million flight school near Dubai.
The floor of the hangar at Emirates' new flight school is as shiny as the line-up of planes waiting for trainees to build up flying hours.
If the Thunderbirds had a flight training academy, this is what it should look like.
There's a lineup of sporty 22 Cirrus turbo-props which have seen some action, five Embraer Phenom 100s and a private jet which has had some modifications for the flight school on the edge of Al Maktoum International Airport, a 45-minute drive from the centre of Dubai.
The Minnesota-built Cirrus SR22 G6 is specially designed for rookies. The planes - not the pilots - have parachutes strapped on to the aircraft structure.
If something should go wrong, pilots can pull a handle and the chute is deployed at certain speeds, allowing it to get to nose-down attitude and glide without power.
The $8 million Embraers have a maximum cruise speed of 752km/h, are capable of flying to 41,000 feet and are popular with corporate customers.
The $420m purpose-built academy in the desert has its own 1.8km runway, air traffic control, 36 classrooms, flight simulators and will soon have four-star hotel accommodation for up to 600 trainees.
There's a pool, sauna and steam room and a high-spec gym - where the cadets keep in shape to ensure they easily fit into the tight cockpits of the trainers.
Right now there's four-star hotel-style accommodation for around 250 trainees and soon, given the rapid pace of building in UAE, there will be room for 600. There's a medical centre and a mosque is being built on-site.
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The first intake are nearly all United Arab Emirates students who will go on to fly for Emirates' all-jet fleet as first officers in the right-hand seat in aircraft as big as Boeing 777s.
International trainees are welcome but have no guarantee of a job with Emirates but will have a pathway into the airline if they meet certain requirements.
The price for a 21-month course is US$210,000 ($314,000) including tax, compared to around $120,000 for basic training for a commercial pilots' licence in this country. But the Emirates training is all-inclusive, right down to uniforms.
Captain Abdullah Al Hammadi is vice president and a driving force behind the academy, which opened 18 months ago.
It is one of a handful around the world to have jets in its training fleet and it's a deliberate move.
''From day one our aim is to train them as airline pilots. If you want to get someone into Formula One driving you start with a go-kart, you don't go into a learners' car.''
He said the performance and high speed of the Embraers meant they had a similar feel to a passenger jet. The Garmin flight deck had the same look and philosphy as a big plane too.
''You start with something that is high performance and higher speed. It handles like a big aircraft.''
The $1m-plus Cirrus planes have fixed landing gear but a simulated retraction system so trainees get used to managing it.
Al Hammadi (known around the campus as Captain Abdullah) says the aircraft's engines and air conditioning are ideal for the desert environment, where temperatures can get as high as 50C.
The trainees get more hours in a Cirrus than they would normally get in turbo-prop to prepare them for the Embraers.
Captain Abdullah says the school emphasises the basics of flight, rather than over-reliance on technology.
Pilots moved from an emphasis on manual flying and navigation to training for fly-by-wire glass cockpits.
''Now this has hit us badly - a lot of people have not done basic flying and there's a drop in their handling. Here we try to get the basic concepts right.''
Human factors are very much part of the syllabus.
''It's not just a matter of flying the aircraft - with automation a pilot has to be ahead of the aircraft, if a pilot is running behind the aircraft that's the worst thing in modern flying,'' he says.
The idea for an Emirates training school started in the early 1990s and the airline based them in Britian, then the United States and Australia.
''In the early 2000s the company started thinking of its own academy, to cope with demand for pilots in the region.''
During the next 20 years an estimated 70,000 pilots will be needed in the Middle East. Emirates' own growth has slowed but it still needs around 350 pilots a year, Captain Abdullah says.
''We built the academy to cope with demand but also control the quality of the trainees.''
The aim is to get them ready for the needs of airliners from day one. This means training in procedures at the airports they will be flying in to, scenarios around sick passengers and how to communicate with a planeload of people.
''When they go to the airline they're not just bus drivers.''
What airlines are doing in this region
Air New Zealand
is poised to announce a cadet scheme to train pilots. It has been working with the New Zealand Air Line Pilots Association on the programme which is aimed at training staff ahead of a looming squeeze. Because pilots can work on many routes after they turn 65 the airline is not so badly affected and a slowdown in the rate of network growth will ease some pressure. Flying schools around the country and the association are pressuring the Government to increase the number and quantity of student loans to cover training costs but have so far had no luck.
Qantas will in September open a dedicated purpose-built academy for up to 250 trainees and will be open to Kiwis who can stump up fees. The course will run for 52 weeks and is based at Toowoomba in inland Queensland. Single-engine training will be in the Diamond DA40 aircraft, and multi-engine training will be in DA42 aircraft. There are no guaranteed jobs with Qantas. Its offshoot Jetstar has teamed up with Massey University to help train pilots for its regional operation. Up to 10 of the university's flight school graduates can be invited for an intensive 12-week transition course to prepare them for airlines.
Virgin Australia last year started an introductory course for those with no flying experience. Last year it recruited 16 recruits (nine females and seven males) and will be part of a 54-week programme conducted at Adelaide in South Australia, where cadets are trained by some of the best instructors in the industry. At the end of their training, the cadets will graduate with a commercial pilot licence and will be offered roles as certified first and second officers with the airline. Cadets must be Australian citizens or permanent residents.
• The Herald travelled to Dubai courtesy of Emirates