Concern Raised Over Shrinking Number of Pilot Graduates in Kenya


According to KCAA, the 2020/21 financial year saw the training and licensing of 167 pilots compared to 456 from the previous financial year.

This amounted to a 64-percent drop and a four-year low recorded in the aviation industry.

KCAA Director-General Gilbert Kibe attributed the sharp decline to the high training fees in an unstable economy as well as the disruption caused by the covid-19 pandemic. 

“The decline was caused by the Covid-19 and the training fees are also prohibitive,” Kibe explained.

Pilots require up to three licenses to become fully-fledged pilots—the Private Pilot Certificate, Commercial Pilot’s Licence and the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

The Private Pilot Certificate, internationally referred to as the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), costs Ksh700,000. The PPL training lasts three to six months and forms his offers basic and foundational skills to beginners.

After completing their PPL training, pilots then go through a 12-months training to obtain their CPL at a cost of Ksh1.8 million.

ATPL, the highest level of pilot licence category, requires trainees to complete 40 hours of Instrument Rating (IR). IR costs Ksh50,000 per hour, bringing the total amount to Ksh2 million.

For a pilot to be in charge of a plane with nine or more passengers, he or she would need to part with a total of Ksh2.5 million (PPL and ATPL licences).

Kibe also stated that the poaching of local pilots by global airlines also poses a challenge to the local industry. However, he downplayed the risk of a pilot shortage due to the fall in graduate numbers.

“We have more than enough pilots, but this will change when new growth in air transport will bring back jobs starting domestically next year and internationally in 2023,” he added.

Some of the pilots trained locally are most of the time forced to go to South Africa for further training because Kenya lacks sufficient resources to train them.


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