General Aviation Market Intelligence

Training and Pilots – China GA Report 2021

Training and Pilots – China GA Report 2021


In mainland China, training institutions are composed of the CCAR – 141 aviation schools and the CCAR – 61 training institutions. Usually, CCAR -141 aviation schools are more rigorously regulated, have larger fleet sizes, younger aircraft, and better aircraft functions. Also, these schools are usually equipped with professional teachers who are allowed to provide Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) courses. On the other hand, CCAR – 61 training institutions are usually general aviation operators under CCAR – 91 and mainly aim to train their own pilots. Although the CCAR – 61 schools are not allowed to provide ATPL courses, their flexible academic process, and low expenses are advantages when compared to CCAR – 141 training schools. As a result, students graduating from CCAR – 141 schools usually pursue a career with commercial airline companies, whilst those from CCAR – 61 training institutions usually gravitate towards general and private aviation for their careers.

At the end of 2020, there were 41 CCAR – 141 training schools, compared to the previous 38 schools in 2019. The slow growth in the number of facilities continued from 2020 to 2021. As of June 2021, there were only two new CCAR – 141 facilities, giving a total of 43 schools.

Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many training pilots were not able to travel abroad, and could only stay in China. As a result, the number of registered CCAR – 141 training pilots increased 18.4% from 4,650 in 2019 to 5,506 in 2020.

As of June 2021, there were 43 CCAR – 141 and 119 CCAR – 61 training institutions. Amongst the CCAR – 141 facilities, 28 of them only provided fixed-wing training courses. Furthermore, eight schools only provided helicopter training and seven schools provided both fixed-wing and helicopter lessons.

On the flip side, CCAR – 61 training schools are quite different. The majority of facilities only provide helicopter training courses – 69 of them. There are also only 41 training institutions providing fixedwing courses. Finally, nine institutions provided both helicopter and fixed-wing curriculums.

Regarding the flight training hours in 2020, CCAR – 141 schools accounted for over 90%. The rest belonged to CCAR – 61 institutions, roughly staying the same as previous years. On the other hand, the training hours of CCAR – 141 and CCAR -61 schools showed a different trend, in 2019, both CCAR – 141 and CCAR – 61 grew compared to 2018 – each by 14% and 54%, respectively. 2019 to 2020 saw CCAR – 141 training hours increased by 25%, whilst CCAR – 61 training hours dropped by 4%.

Pilot Overview

From 2014 to 2020, the number of registered Chinese civil aviation pilot licenses experienced a continuous increase. According to data from the “China Civil Aviation Pilot Development Annual Report”, there were a total of 69,817 Chinese civil aviation pilot licenses at the end of 2020. Whilst the annual growth rate remained around 10% from 2017 to 2019, the growth rate in 2020 drastically decreased to 2% due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the end of 2020, amongst the various civil aviation pilot license categories, the number of Commercial Pilot License (CPL) accounted for 52%. Additionally, the Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) accounted for 40%. The rest of the makeup is composed of Private Pilot License (PPL) at 6%, Sport Pilot License (SPL) at 2%, and Multi-crew Pilot License, with less than 1%.  

Around 80% of registered pilots were employed in 2020, making the situation similar to previous years. More specifically, 91% of licensed pilots still chose to work for commercial airline companies. Although pilots that chose general aviation businesses remained fewer in comparison, the number of general aviation pilots increased by 5% from 2019 to 2020. With regards to the number of public service pilots and CCAR – 141 instructors, there was only 3% growth from 2019 to 2020.

Unemployed and inactive pilots (mainly resigned non-local pilots, retired pilots, and deceased pilots) as well as private and sport pilots saw a drop from 2019 to 2020. On the flip side, the number of trainee and unemployed pilots experienced an increase. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the number of unemployed pilots increased dramatically – by 56%.