Occident Prone

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Posts Tagged ‘Aviation’

Sharks catch a break with pilot shortage

Posted by occidentprone on September 25, 2008

Australia has a pilot shortage, a story that doesn’t have a direct impact on a lot of people’s lives. So how to hit readers where it hurts? Make it into a shark story.

WAToday reports: 

Aerial shark patrols of Perth’s beaches will no longer be flown by Edith Cowan University’s aviation school which has operated the shark spotters since they started in 2001.

The WA government first contracted ECU to fly the patrols in November 2001 after businessman Ken Crew died when attacked by a 4m white pointer at North Cottesloe Beach in November 2000.

Until last summer, ECU had been able to marshall the forces of 15 to 20 student aviators to fly the shark spots out of Jandakot Airport.

… But last summer WA’s booming mining industry poached so many student pilots for fly-in, fly-out work that there were no longer enough students to keep the community safety service running.

… ECU is the only university in WA to offer a degree course for budding pilots.

Typically, students gain their commercial licence in the second year of their degree and build their flight hours up in the third year.

But increasingly, mining and tourism companies are employing students as soon as they get their licence, and the students complete their flying hours in full-time employment.

By the by, young and inexperienced pilots have long been getting a raw deal from many small and rural operators. Being a pilot is more of a vocation than a job or profession to a lot of people who have dreamed of owning the skies since the seventh time they saw Top Gun. And bosses have capitalised on that by paying measly dollars to pilots eager to fill in the log book and rack up the air time.

Maybe a short-term shortage is just what the industry needs to show employers they should ditch the cowboy culture, disregard for regulations and shelf-stacker pay and treat its staff as professionals.

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