State-owned airlines launch collaborative effort to train more pilots of colour


Just over two weeks after SAA announced its newest intake of pupil pilots would all be from previously disadvantaged population groups the national carrier and its SA Express affiliate have embarked on a joint initiative to right skewed flight deck demographics.

The pair of State-owned airlines will pool resources to create a jointly managed and resourced national pilot training programme. Trainees’ classroom tuition, practical training, flying time, accommodation, travel and other expenses will be covered by a joint SAA/SA Express budget.

Explaining the decision to launch the joint pilot training programme SAA chief executive Monwabisi Kalawe said: “As the national carrier and a good corporate citizen SAA is aligned with the country’s employment equity objectives to accelerate skills development. We are extending this programme to our youth in Youth Month as an opportunity to develop and empower South African youth”.

The latest audited civil aviation statistics show that there were 2 776 African aviation personnel licence holders, 670 Coloureds, 553 Indians and 17 346 whites.

Further examination of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) statistics shows more than half the African licence holders – 1 668 – are women with 383 coloureds, 238 Indians and 2 169 whites making up the country’s total female flight deck population.

SA Express chief executive Inati Ntshanga saw the collaboration as the best way of contributing toward “the task of training much-needed pilots for South Africa and the continent.
“The programme is going to make an impact in addressing the serious shortage of skills we are seeing in the South African aviation industry.
“SA Express is far ahead when compared to the rest of the industry with 47 black pilots out of a total of 225 there is still a lot to be done.”

The initiative was welcomed by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba who said it was of “key importance” for aviation and aeronautical skills to be encouraged as an achievable career option to all sectors of our population”.

South Africa, as a developmental state, would continue using State-owned companies to drive its transformation agenda he told guest at the training initiative launch.