Growth in the global airline industry is enabling the progression from cadet to captain quicker than ever before – Robin Glover-Faure, Vice President of Airline Training at L3 Commercial Training Solutions (L3 CTS), discusses the changes in pilot training and what they mean for the profession today.

20,000 new pilots have been trained globally this year and have been placed as first officers in airlines to support the 6.1% annual growth in air travel. Pilot training services companies which train and shape the new generation of commercial aviation professionals have an important job to do to keep up with the demand for new pilots and maintain the high professional standards expected by airline customers.

Rapid promotion

To support the airlines’ high-growth ambitions and deliver the expertise, we are seeing new and current pilots increasingly requiring training which can facilitate and prepare them for the fast career progression required to fill the demand. The average time for cadets to be promoted to captain is now 5-6 years for fast-growing airlines and requires the early introduction of competency-based training supported by evidence-based training techniques.

In order to achieve this rapid promotion, cadets must be trained to the highest professional standards with both technical and non-technical competencies thoroughly embedded into their training footprint. Inevitably, the transition from right seat to left seat still depends on individual airlines and the pilots’ capability to demonstrate the required command competencies, but we recognise the need for a solid grounding to develop the skills required to excel and place cadets on a trajectory for leadership from the start.

Training providers such as L3 CTS can use their knowledge and strong relationships with airlines to identify what specific skills and training are needed to ensure that cadets are best prepared to progress once they join an airline.


L3 CTS offers a variety of courses, including the MPL (multi-pilot license), which is an airline-specific licence and can better prepare the cadets to transition into their new role as an effective first officer.   Not only does the MPL provide pilots with a realistic experience of their future pilot competencies required in line operations and recurrent training, it also offers airlines the opportunity to tailor the cadet training to specific demands of their line operations compared to the traditional integrated course. This provides cadets with a more relevant training experience which monitors performance and progress in a variety of situations, allowing for more evidence-based training.

Advances in technology have made evidence-based training a vital part of any pilot’s curriculum as it recreates real scenarios using recorded aircraft data. This allows a focus on the core competencies that can be reinforced in the development of cadets’ technical and practical skills and also allows for ‘Notech skills’ to be honed.

Notech skills

Notech skills are embedded in the training framework, focusing on creating an understanding of human factors and decision-making. These skills are integrated into the syllabus to ensure the highest level of competency in the procedural response to modern aircraft warning systems such as EGPWS, traffic avoidance, runway incursion/excursion and windshear systems. There is also the opportunity to develop the skills of teamwork, workload management and situation awareness. The combination of evidence-based training with training devices that incorporate the latest aircraft software provides a rich and diverse training experience for new pilots and adds to the overarching aim of improving safety in commercial aviation.

Automation and digitisation

Naturally, the pilot training industry must embrace the requirement implement the continuous improvements in training expertise and be a partner in raising the bar for safety, training pilots to manage risk and reduce the event rate of incidents and accidents in the industry. As automation in aircraft develops, new training must include a focus on automation knowledge to ensure the safe application of the technology developments. It is vital that training providers can identify the changes and trends in the landscape of commercial airline innovation to ensure pilots have expert and relevant knowledge of their aircraft.

As new technology develops, familiarization training can continue to take innovative, new forms. Currently, tablets are used to track training progress and allow interactivity but as technology develops this becomes even more interactive (Virtual Reality headsets, 3D goggles). It will be important to assess whether this enables a better learning experience or if a balance between traditional classroom and digital learning will be important to maintain.

Time will tell how digitalisation will impact the ever-changing face of pilot training, but the demand for high quality talented individuals with an ambition to fulfil their full potential will remain. With flight safety and crew expertise at the forefront, we are committed to continuing to train the best commercial pilots of the future.