Airline Human Resource Management

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Human Resource Management (HRM) is one of the most important bodies in any organization. Human Resource (HR) entails all people working in an organization to achieve a common goal. The structure of HRM varies from one firm to another, depending on the working environment.

Human resources can be defined as human capital and are classified into social, intellectual, and emotional capital. Therefore, HRM effectively and efficiently uses human resources in an organization to achieve the firm’s goals and objectives (Izah, 2020). The process involves strategic planning, establishing, directing, and monitoring all the procurement development processes, compensation consolidation, separation, and integration of human resources, among other vital procedures involving human capital (Izah, 2020). In the airline industry, recruitment and management of pilots are delicate procedures requiring prudence and competence.

The HRM of O.R Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in South Africa is critically evaluated to assess the HRM of the airline.

Factors Affecting Recruitment

The recruitment process of pilots is a crucial procedure that takes various factors into account. For instance, ORTIA faces several HR constraints during the pilots’ recruitment process (Airports Company South Africa, 2019). The human resources managers have to pursue and attain strategic integration processes by considering all the factors during the recruiting process of the pilots (Rahman et al. 2019). Factors affecting recruitment procedures of the pilot in ORTIA include:

Recruitment Costs and Policies

Recruitment policies in the airline industry are uniform in most companies. When evaluating the recruitment process, costs are the most important factors to consider during process evaluation. The costs of recruitment of new pilots should not surpass the output anticipated from their services. The recruitment process is only done for qualified pilots; however, the new pilots are probably not productive in the initial period of their employment. The pilots take some time to learn the company’s airline routes and get comfortable and acquainted with their new line of duty (Seshan, and Ratha, 2018). Through the HRM, the company should balance the cost of recruiting new pilots following the selection policies.

Qualification and Professional Requirements

While flying is both prestigious and glamorous, the job is not always easy because of strict technical qualifications. Although there is no specification of degree required for the job, courses in English, Physics, Mathematics, and aeronautics are among the basic requirement during the selection process. At Tambo International Airport, the most crucial requirement when hiring pilots is a certification and recommendation from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The qualifications and requirements vary depending on the category of the plane the pilot will be flying.

Apart from academic qualifications, pilots have to meet stringent physical requirements. The FAA ensures all passengers, the entire crew, and people on the ground are safe. Attitude and psychological tests are performed during the recruitment process of pilots. Some airline pilots are recruited from corporate flying companies while others are hired from commuter airlines, having attained military training and undertaken aviation careers (Ishola, Adeleye, and Tanimola, 2018). Pilots should have the ability to endure stress, be vigilant while flying, and be ready for all kinds of emergencies while on air.

Pilot Experience

A standard pilot recruitment procedure guarantees safe airline operations and hires pilots who have enough experience in the industry. Experience is an important factor apart from academic qualifications necessary during the selection process. For instance, some weather conditions across the seas and oceans require a sophisticated pilot with much experience in navigating through harsh climatic conditions. A novice pilot has to be introduced and trained on how to remain calm while handling emergencies to gain the required experience.

Age and Personality

The minimum age requirement in the industry of aviation varies from one country to another, depending on the regulations of aviation in the country. The FAA allows applying for a student-pilot permit from the age of 14 for the balloon or glider’s license. However, European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) practices tighter age requirements. EASA requires a person to be at least 16 years old to be issued with a private pilot license and at least 18 to possess a commercial pilot license or airline transport pilot license (ATPL) (Parand, 2016). Other personalities such as integrity, team play, ability to solve problems, and time management, amongst other similar attributes, are essential during the recruitment process.

Recruitment Process

The department of HRM must formulate and implement a sound pilot selection process. A strategic recruitment process will enable ORTIA to achieve its goals and objectives by hiring competent pilots. The recruitment process includes:

Screening and Shortlisting

All applications are screened by approved and sophisticated pilot recruiters of the airline company. Based on skills and knowledge of aviation, airlines, aircraft, and language requirements, amongst other rules and regulations governing aviation, the recruiter can accept the applications.


The invitation is only sent to the shortlisted pilots after thorough screening has been done.

Follow up

An accredited pilot recruiter communicates with pilots who have not met the full requirements of the profession. Communication is important to assure and congratulate the pilots for their attempts and encourage them to apply during the next selection.

Document Check

All the essential documents and pilot logbooks are collected and counterchecked for adequacy and authenticity. Parts of the process of scrutinizing documents are done online in most companies to increase effectiveness and accuracy.

Simulator Test

A simulator test is done to check the candidate’s level of adaptability. Several skills, including handling and managing threats and fear while flying, are examined during simulator testing. Error mitigation, effective communication, the skill of problem-solving, and customer relationship management, amongst many other factors, are also assessed. All the data gathered is dissected and compared with relevant standards of aviation to enhance accuracy during the selection process.

Reasoning and Aptitude tests

The psychometric ability measures the thinking capacity, the speed of capturing and processing data logically, and integrating all the required components within a short duration. Pilots should have the ability to detect problems and offer a solution quickly when emergencies occur.

Assessment Centre

The examination center checks the competency of candidates in a group environment. Tests are structured to evaluate how candidates can use the available resources, work in teams, plan, and communicate appropriately.

Personality Tests

The candidate profile is created and used for comparison purposes during the subsequent processes in the recruitment procedures. The result from the personality test can also be used in behavioral interviews.


Personality tests and competencies are used to formulate the interview questions. HR must choose a qualified interview panel using relevant aviation criteria. The face-to-face interview method is the most appropriate approach to eliminate malpractices and unethical issues. The interview should contain technical questions on aviation and general personal inquiries.


Apart from avoiding hiring incompetent pilots through wrong decisions, all tests performed from the initial stage of recruitment should reflect the results at the end of the process. The results help the HRM team to make an informed decision when hiring new pilots.

Selection Methods

Pilot selection methods vary depending on the rules and regulations of the Airline Company. HRM team of ORTIA uses the following methods when recruiting its pilots:

Cognitive Ability Test Method

The test measures several psychological or mental abilities, such as mathematical and verbal capabilities. Also, logical reasoning capacity and the ability to read and internalize concepts quickly are assessed by cognitive tests. The cognitive test has been proven to be an important test in the school of aviation since it can predict a new pilot’s job performance. Cognitive ability tests entail multiple choices, and the tests are administered through a paper and pen approach or by the use of computers.

Job Knowledge Method

The method assesses the essential critical skills and knowledge the pilots need to have when performing their jobs efficiently. For instance, flying aircraft require technical knowledge and skills, and the job knowledge test evaluates the technical capability of a pilot. The job knowledge test is applicable when candidates already have a prior understanding of piloting.

Personality Tests

The test examines personal attributes relevant to the job using factors such as conscientiousness and emotional stability. Pilots need to have a sound personality for them to perform their duties competently.

Integrity Test Method

The test assesses the attitude and personal experience related to honesty, dependability, and trustworthiness.

Physical Fitness Assessment Method

Pilots need to be physically fit for them to perform some general activities while on duty. Overall fitness includes being healthy by having enough strength and being able to endure some strenuous moments.

Features of a Good Test


The test should evaluate the exact purpose it has been designed to examine. Validity is measured by exploring and connecting the test to some benchmarking criteria.


The test should provide uniform results even in scenarios where different tests are being conducted. A test’s reliability is usually scrutinized by comparing several scores with each other (Alsalihi, 2019). Reliability is an essential aspect of the methods used to recruit pilots.

Factors Affecting HRM

Several factors affect HRM internationally, not only in the airline industry but also in other sectors. The factors include:

Economic Factors

Economic factors are factors responsible for development purposes in an organization. Economic factors influencing HRM are population, workforce condition, and national income together with inflationary pressure. For instance, economic factors directly affect the cost of living and employees’ payments in a nation.

Socio-Cultural Factors

From an HRM perspective, socio-cultural factors affecting the department include beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and general community customs. HRM practices can be successful if they follow the fundamental socio-cultural practices of a nation. For businesses to thrive, the beliefs and customs of potential and existing clients have to be respected.

Technological Factors

Technological features consist of skills and knowledge required to perform tasks especially. In the recruitment and selection process, the entire process has been easy using online platforms. Jobs are being posted on the internet, and potential candidates can make inquiries directly using similar online platforms. However, it is costly to initiate and maintain online transactions due to the expensive software and hardware components required (Marler and Parry, 2016). Countries with sophisticated technology stand in better positions to perform exemplary in their airlines.

Political Factors

HRM has to follow all the required rules and regulations of the nation designed to govern pilots’ hiring process. Apart from laws, other political factors such as government role in the business sector impact the HRM of a company. The government prescribes new policies related to HRM, and managers have to adhere to all the policies (Chitescua and Lixandrub, 2016). When peace prevails globally, all the operations of HR are conducted successfully.


HRM is a crucial department in any organization since it must regulate the expertise and number of employees. Strategic HRM operations such as hiring competent staff, training recruits, motivating, and appraising them have a tremendous effect on an organization’s performance. In the airline sector, the HRM team plays important role in hiring new pilots under strict professional conditions. For instance, O.R Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in South Africa is a renowned airline due to its outstanding services rendered by qualified personnel. The recruitment process of pilots is a challenging and delicate procedure, and the HRM has to be cautious when hiring pilots. The selection process is affected by factors such as the cost of recruiting, strict qualifications, and candidates’ personalities.

The recruitment process has several stages running from shortlisting and screening of candidates up to the validation of the results. Several tests have to be done on pilot candidates to ascertain their mental and physical abilities in the aviation industry. A good test should be reliable and valid for the intended purpose of the selection process to be achieved. However, several factors are affecting HRM during the recruitment process of pilots globally. The factors include economic, political, social-cultural, and technological.

Therefore, strategic HRM plays an imperative role in ensuring an organization achieves its goals and objectives.

Reference List

Airports Company South Africa. (2019). Airports company South Africa annual airport. Web.

Alsalihi, H. (2019). ‘English department students’ attitudes towards teaching profession’, Journal of the College of Basic Education, 25(105), pp.376-391. Web.

Chitescua, R. and Lixandrub, M. (2016). ‘The influence of the social, political and economic impact on human resources, as a determinant factor of sustainable development’, Procedia Economics and Finance, 39(1), pp.820-826. Web.

Ishola, A.A., Adeleye, S.T. and Tanimola, F.A. (2018) ‘Impact of educational, professional qualification and years of experience on accountant job performance’, Journal of Accounting and Financial Management ISSN, 4(1), pp. 32-44. Web.

Izah, M. (2020) ‘The influence of human resource management practices on employees job performance in federal university libraries in Nigeria’, Information and Knowledge Management, 10(4), pp.1-7. Web.

Marler, J.H. and Parry, E. (2016) ‘Human resource management, strategic involvement and e-HRM technology’, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(19), pp.1-21. Web.

Parand, A., Kirwan, B. and Reader, T. (2016) ‘European pilots’ perceptions of safety culture in European Aviation. The London School of Economics and Political Science, 5(2), pp.1-180. Web.

Rahman, M. Islam, M. Amin, M. Sultana, R. and Talukder, M. (2019) ‘Effective factors of service marketing mix on tourist satisfaction: a case study’, Asian Social Science, 15(7), pp. 50-55. Web.

Seshan, G. and Ratha, D. (2018). ‘Worker-paid recruitment costs’, in Seshan G. and Ratha, D. (eds.) Global labor and the migrant premium. London: Routledge, pp. 26-35.

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