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For every 100 pilots in the United States only 15 are rated as instructors, less than seven are women and four are rated as helicopter only. With these facts considered, it’s easy to see why the helicopter industry is in the shadow and could be facing an even bigger crisis than the fixed-wing world, One Above Aviation said.
One Above Aviation, better known by its U.S.-registered trademark EatSleepFly based at John Wayne Airport, has just hired another flight instructor. This time it was a graduate of the Cabri G2 helicopter transition program — keeping the graduate employment at 100 percent and filling the void of the new helicopter model Guimbal Cabri that was introduced to the United States market in 2015. The G2 has been popular among students at the school, One Above said.
Within the last 10 years the amount of qualified flight instructors graduating from flight schools has been on the decline, while the amount of private students wanting to get their pilots license has been on the incline. This creates problems because there are not enough instructors to fill the demand for flight training for private pilot clients wanting to get their license.
Mark Robinson, chief pilot at One Above Aviation flight school, said, “I have been in the aviation industry for over 11 years and used to get instructor resumes weekly. Now we’re lucky if we get one a month to deal with the demand in Southern California.
“The airlines are squeezing pilots from all sectors. We are telling all potential students to consider a career change if they are naturally athletic, reliable, punctual and honest, and [there is] increased hourly pay to compensate career-minded individuals, too. You can earn up to $72,000 now as an initial flight instructor out of school, which is not what it used to be like.”
The flight school market is often the first introduction the public gets to private aviation, and One Above is seeing a huge increase in international students. So much so that its new hire, Max, is from overseas and speaks English and German fluently.
This adds to the line of instructors, now at seven total who speak a total of six languages including German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and English. There is a niche in the market for international students to be able to understand something in their native language and have it explained to them clearly before they then can explain it themselves in English or on the check-ride.
With the aviation market not only growing, but facing a short supply of qualified individuals to instruct, One Above Aviation is still hiring its own graduates as well as graduates from surrounding schools who may not be as busy with positions available.
Only a few months ago, one of One Above’s instructors was headhunted from the flight school and moved directly into another position for a corporate organization. The company said it couldn’t be more pleased as its instructors are among the best in the industry in one of the world’s busiest airspace, and it leaves a space open for yet another instructor. However, it takes seven months to train someone to become fully qualified.
Currently, One Above has four students in the career aviation program and the company is looking to hire every single one of them.
Looking forward, One Above Aviation plans to hire another instructor in fall 2019.