Industry

New pilot licensing falls by half as Covid takes a toll

pilot

Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) secretary general Murithi Nyagah. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said an additional 267 pilots were licensed last year, bringing the number to 8,441 from 8,174 a year earlier.
  • In 2012, KCAA said Kenya needed to train at least 2,000 pilots in five years to keep up with increasing activities in the industry.
  • The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) Secretary-General Muriithi Nyagah said there is nothing that can be done to lower the training cost because of the expensive nature of training.

The number of newly licensed pilots more than halved in 2021 compared with previous periods as the effects of Covid-19 and high training costs took a toll on the sector.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said an additional 267 pilots were licensed last year, bringing the number to 8,441 from 8,174 a year earlier.

This was a slower rate compared to 2020 when 745 pilots were trained and licensed to fly.

In 2012, KCAA said Kenya needed to train at least 2,000 pilots in five years to keep up with increasing activities in the industry.

KCAA said the high cost of training was blocking many Kenyans from becoming pilots.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) Secretary-General Muriithi Nyagah said there is nothing that can be done to lower the cost because of the expensive nature of training.

“During training, an aircraft needs to be hired and instructors to be paid, these are some of the things that make training of pilots expensive in Kenya,” he said.

For example, it costs Sh700,000 to obtain a basic Private Pilot Certificate, internationally referred to as the Private Pilot Licence (PPL).

The training for PPL lasts about three to six months and forms the foundation course to obtaining a Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL), which costs Sh1.8 million for six to 12 months of training.

To qualify for the highest level of pilot licence category known as the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), a trainee requires 40 hours of Instrument Rating (IR) training, which costs Sh50,000 per hour or Sh2 million in total.

He said Kenya does not have enough pilots to meet the demand, even though Covid-19 has cut on demand for the aviators.

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