Speaking at the Guild's Livery Dinner at Drapers Hall, Captain Wally Epton spoke openly about the major issues affecting today's professional pilots prompting an overwhelming show of support from the 200 guests in attendance.
Since taking over as the Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, Wally
has made it his
aim to improve the training aid to future pilots and to also maintain the status of current professional pilots.
suggested to The Hon Theresa Villiers MP and the Minister of State for Transport, who attended the dinner, a means by which she
could help with her
Department's newly announced plans to cut costs on the railways.
"Why not for example, ask guards or engine drivers to pay for their own training before earning their salaries?
"Or better still allow the train operating companies to charge drivers for the privilege of driving trains, during their probationary period."
While Capt. Epton
acknowledged that it sounds nonsensical and could you just imagine the Unions' reaction, worryingly there are many young pilots in the aviation industry who are being forced to do just that.
Aspiring commercial pilots are forced to embark on self-funded Pay 2 Train and even Pay 2 Fly programmes to qualify for their jobs.
said: "Operators, the Department for Transport and even the regulators need to look urgently at the value of British pilots to our economy.
The general public might appreciate that skillful and well-trained pilots are essential to the safe conduct of their flight, but it would seem that amongst government officials, aviation management and to a lesser extent with regulators, pilots are increasingly being treated as an overrated resource."
Wally's speech not only addressed the issues facing qualified pilots but also those training to become a pilot.
Airlines do not pay to train their pilots.
Instead youngsters pay for it themselves, having to find upwards of £70,000 and complete their training with no guarantee of a job at the end of it.
is concerned for these youngsters who enter the industry with huge financial worries right at the start of the career when they should be free from distractions to learn their craft of flying safely and professionally.
"The love of aviation is driving these young people to self-fund their training in one of the most professional industries in the world," he
"Yet it is being abused by those who should know better."
"The Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airlines claim safety is their first priority and yet safety is already being jeopardised by this present situation."
To show that this is a problem unique to aviation, Wally
spoke of how other companies invest in their employees yet the airline industry has stepped out of that chain.
commented, "Top companies in UK PLC
include training as part of their remit, including the offer of internships and on-going training in industry.
said, "We will continue to do what we can, but the aviation industry has to accept its responsibilities towards the cost of advanced flying training and recurrent training to ensure skilled pilots are there to fly the aeroplanes the public want to travel in."
2. Captain Epton began his aviation career as an aircraft apprentice at RAF Halton and completed flying training at the RAF College Cranwell.
served for 20 years before retiring in 1978 as a Squadron Leader, having flown aircraft as diverse as the Canberra bomber, C-130 Hercules and, as a display pilot with the RAF Battle
of Britain Memorial Flight, Spitfires and Hurricanes.
3. For the past 33 years, Wally
has flown as a business jet pilot concentrating on the Hawker 125 and Challenger CL-604 series worldwide.
In addition to logging over 15,700 hours of flying time, he
is also heavily involved in the training of crews and in managing business jet operations.