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Japan transport ministry to ease huge costs for retired SDF pilots hoping to move into airline jobs

Kyodo

The transport ministry said Tuesday it will revise a system that currently costs retired Self-Defense Force pilots millions of yen to secure their commercial pilot’s instrument rating certification, amid predictions there will be a shortage of airline pilots by around 2030.

The current system requires a former SDF pilot to pay around ¥4.5 million ($40,680) in training costs to qualify for the certification.

Due to the cost, only one or two of some 50 SDF pilots retiring every year pursues a career with a commercial airline.

Under the proposed changes, airlines will run training for the certificate alongside courses for other qualifications at their own cost after the pilots join.

The measure is expected to help reduce the time needed before the pilots can start flying for commercial airlines.

As of January 2018, the number of pilots at Japanese airlines stood at around 6,500, of which roughly 5 percent were from the Self-Defense Forces, according to the ministry.

It has also taken other steps to ease the expected pilot shortage. These include boosting the student quota at Civil Aviation College, the sole public training school for pilots in Japan, by 50 percent from the 2018 academic year.