• Kyodo

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The government plans to allow airlines to organize their own training programs for captains to address a shortage of pilots stemming from the rise of budget airlines, a transport ministry source has said.

It would be the first major change to the training system since it was put in place in 1958.

Under the current system, captains are trained under a uniformed framework designated by the state.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry envisions revising regulations under the aviation law and accepting applications from airlines as early as next spring, the source said Wednesday.

As the state would need to verify the airlines’ training programs, it would likely take two to three years to implement the new system, according to the source. The current training framework would also be maintained.

Airlines will be required to report to authorities on their training annually to ensure safety, the source said.

With the advancement of flight technologies, including autopilot and autolanding systems, today’s captains need to possess diverse skills, the source said.

Under the current system, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years to be certified as a captain by the transport ministry, as candidates must obtain the “airline transport pilot rating” first by taking mandatory courses and flight training for a certain period of time, as well as in-house training based on state regulations to further test their knowledge and skills.

The new system will not specify a time period for obtaining licenses if candidates train in operational procedures and pilot handling skills within airline companies, according to the source, allowing captains to be trained faster.

It will also allow airlines to take a more flexible approach to training captains, with any weaknesses to be overcome by focusing on specific areas.

Pilots are currently obliged to undergo routine checks every six months to a year, but under the new system they will be conducted less frequently, according to the source.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines have already started preparing for the new system, the source said.

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