CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines — China will need 20,000 more airline pilots in the next three years and the Philippines is losing its chance to be the training ground for pilots because of poor standards and malpractice in some aviation schools that have mushroomed almost overnight.
“India has virtually blacklisted some of our aviation schools amid reports of cheating in certifying the number of flying hours required for flying courses,” according to Benhur Gomez, owner of Omni Aviation Corp. (Omni) flying school.
Gomez noted the sudden increase in the number of flying schools in the country, from 23 to 63 in the last two years.
Gomez lamented the substandard training of pilots in some flying schools that prompted Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Ocol to cite the need to check on the sudden surge in the number of aviation schools to ensure they are compliant with international standards.
“I heard the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) already has this (issue of increasing aviation schools) on its agenda and I think it’s a serious concern,” Ocol said.
Gomez, for his part, urged the CAAP to probe reports that some of the country’s aviation schools are diploma mills.
He said some aviation schools issue certifications on the number of flying hours of its students way above the actual hours spent for “private pilot courses,” which are basic requirements for the commercial pilot course.
Gomez was among the owners of aviation schools in the Philippines who attended an aviation education-training summit recently in Shanghai, China.
The summit was also attended by airline executives from various countries.
During the summit, Gomez learned from one foreign airline executive that pilot licenses issued in the Philippines are like “bubble gum.”
He also learned the Chinese government is planning to send their students to train in aviation schools in the US and Australia.
During the forum, Gomez reported to participants that the Philippines still has “a few aviation schools” that could fill in the aviation training requirements of China.