Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) will have enough pilots to operate its growing fleet of aircraft, its CEO said during the latest signing of two new cadet pilots on Monday.

Despite its small population, the country can still produce individuals who are able to meet the stringent requirements to undergo commercial pilot training, Karam Chand said in an interview with The Scoop. Next year, RB is expecting to welcome an additional six Airbus A320 and one Boeing 787.

“Of course, there is a global shortage of pilots and engineers… We have made plans before deciding to add more aircrafts and will be able to have enough manpower.”

A study by Boeing released in August this year estimates that the airline industry will need around 637,000 new pilots over the next 20 years.

This high demand makes them more mobile to move between airlines, the RB CEO noted. However, he assured that RB has not seen a high rate of turnover among its pilots.

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RB CEO Karam Chand (C), in a group photo with two new cadet pilots. Photo: Royal Brunei Airlines

“The major airlines are able to offer more competitive pay and RB has limited resources… But our schedule (is better and) allows our pilots to be able to spend more time with their family,” Chand explained.

He added that some of RB-trained pilots have gone on to work for major airlines.

“This reflects the high standards of RB training and development for our pilots to be accepted by bigger airlines in the Middle East and Europe.”

Currently, all of RB’s first officers are locals and Chand is certain that with time, more will rise to the rank of captain. The flag carrier’s 138 pilot workforce comprise 73 per cent locals, with fifty per cent of RB captains being locals.

All of RB’s first officers are locals, said Chand, adding that with time, more will rise to the rank of captain.

“As part of our recruitment process, we have very high standards. For this signing, we have identified two out of 73 shortlisted,” he said.

Once cadet pilots finish their training, they will become first officers and after 12 years, depending on performance, may qualify to rank as captain. The national carrier, the CEO said, is doing “significantly better” than where it was before in terms of localisation of pilots.

“Generally speaking, we should be extremely proud. For such a small nation we have quality people in Brunei.”

On Monday, RB signed on two new cadets in hopes of bolstering its pilot manpower — Muhammad Zulhilmi Ali, 27, and Amir Yaziid Hakim Mohd Adam, 20.

The cadet pilot programme, dubbed CTC Wings, will commence this month in New Zealand where the cadets will train for almost two years.

“I expect the training course to be hard and challenging, but this has always been my dream to become a pilot,” Amir Yaziid said.