The Wall Street Journal reports the US Airlines face what could be the worst pilot shortage since the 1960’s. Next summer a Federal mandate kicks in that requires a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight experience (six times the current minimum) for newly hired pilots. This raises the cost and time to train new pilots at a time when more demanding schedules and pay cuts have already made the profession less attractive. In 2014, another federal rule requires that pilots take more daily rest time. This change is expected to make passenger airlines add 5 percent more pilots to their company’s payroll. Compounding the problem, thousands of senior pilots at major airlines will soon hit the mandatory age requirement of 65.
Industry officials have said that the pool of military trained pilots the airlines have relied on in the past dried up due to pilots choosing to remain in the service, rather than venture to airline careers. Because of this, airlines now have to rely on new hires that have finished flight school, and later working as flight instructors at local airports.
The airline pilot shortage is an international issue. The Flight Training News (FTN) released figures recently that revealed that the global pilot shortage is about 446,800. Between now and 2030, it is estimated that 22,000 new pilots are needed every year. Airlines around the globe are experiencing exponential growth and are truly worried about this statistic and the coming pilot shortage. Areas such as China, will need an extra 61,000 pilots for the 52 new airports they will be building in the next 5 years, or Europe will need an estimated 97,000 pilots. In the Middle East, an estimated 23,000 are needed, and North America needs 112,000 pilots. These are just a few of the severely affected areas. Another country finding itself in future difficulty is Russia (a growing aviation sector), having a shortage of 21,000 pilots, and only a handful of flight training schools for a population of more than 148 million people.
Usually when students graduate from flight schools they stay around and instruct for a while, building time. As the graduates extend their college experience and even get paid a bit for the time building, the new rules have started to undermine that time tested tradition of professional flight schools. Now these instructors are unwilling to leave, which complicates the economics of the industry even more, meaning that the freshly graduated students have nowhere to go to instruct.
Because of the rising demand for pilots globally, combined with the expected rise in pilot requirements and stricter qualification standards for new pilots, both government and industry officials recently have emphasized the need to find new, long-term ways to increase the flow of pilots. John Allen, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Director of Flight Standards Service, told The Associated Press “I am concerned because it has safety implications.” Last week more than a dozen major airlines and commuter carriers participated in a meeting to discuss potential solutions sponsored by Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Tim Brady, dean of Embry Riddle ‘s Florida college of aviation, warned that expanding the supply of qualified pilots “is not a future problem; it is upon us now.”
The first of these rules don’t go into effect until 2013, so now is a great time to get started with a new career in the air. The potential for a great job that begins a real career with opportunity for learning and moving up through the ranks is here now!