Get them while they’re young. That is the key to the future of aviation, according to the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA).
Speaking at a symposium on the next generation of aviation professionals, hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization, IAOPA General Secretary John Sheehan said, “Growing aviation professionals should start in grade school by providing introductory flights, visits to maintenance repair organizations and mentoring youthful aviation aspirations.”
Speaking on the theme, “Looking beyond the economic crisis: Mobilizing the aviation community to recruit, educate, train and retain the next generation of aviation professionals,” Sheehan told attendees one simple way to draw fresh faces into aviation is to support International Learn To Fly Day, slated for May 15. “On that day, all aviation stakeholders are asked to get people to their local airport to explore aviation careers,” he said. “Aviation associations, flight training organizations and individual pilots are going to introductory flights to the general public.
“In the beginning there is general aviation – no pilot ever made their first flight in an A320 Airbus,” Sheehan said. “Likewise, few, if any, aviation maintenance technicians started work on transport category aircraft.
“Yet, while general aviation is the first rung on the ladder to an aviation career, regulatory restrictions, uncertain career prospects and high fees often stifle youthful aspirations,” he continued. “States, national aviation authorities and industry interests must work together to provide a welcoming environment to young people aspiring to an aviation career.”
The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations represents the interests of more than 470,000 general aviation and aerial work pilots and aircraft operators in AOPA affiliates in 68 countries of the world. For more information: IAOPA.org.