The following is an excerpt from a conversation I had with Captain Dan Robertson who is the Head of Pilot Recruitment with Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA). Captain Robertson has held the position of Chief Pilot with ASA in addition to his position in the Recruiting Department, and lately has been speaking with pilots across the country about the impending pilot shortage that most experts agree is coming in the relatively near future. ATP’s Airline Career Pilot Program trains students from a Private Pilot to Multi-engine Instructor with Commercial ratings in as little as ninety days, which is the most direct path to an airline job possible. In addition to that, in today’s competitive airline hiring environment, these ATP Career Pilot Program graduates also have the skills and ratings to then instruct and build the quality flight experience necessary to compete for and earn their wings as an airline pilot. There is some lead time associated even with this accelerated path to the airlines and as such, Dan also speaks to the need for young aviators in this country to begin flight training now to be ready to take advantage of the future hiring needs of the airlines.
Dan, is ASA presently interviewing applicants for pilot positions with ASA?
Although we were hiring through May 5th of this year, ASA has presently met our pilot hiring needs for 2008 due to the slowdown in the economy and capacity cuts by Delta.
Does ASA have any pilots on furlough?
No, we have not furloughed any pilots at all.
With the present slowdown in hiring it may seem as if it will be more competitive in the future to someone training to become an airline pilot, what would you say to them?
When hiring begins again, hopefully in late 2009, we will select the most suitable applicant from our hiring pool and qualified applicants. We have developed a rating point system where applicants receive extra points for the total time, multi-engine time, CFI. CFII, MEI, jet time, turbo-prop time and advanced jet training. Our goal will be to hire the most suitable candidate so encourage your students to continue to obtain additional ratings and experience.
Airlines were all hiring in the not too distant past, but now they have slowed down. You have been in aviation for a long time and have seen this before. What would you say to a person who is considering a career in aviation?
We are currently in one of the industry cycles caused by a poor economy; however, encourage your students to not be discouraged as this time too shall pass. In fact, I predict another pilot shortage within two years of the time the major airlines start another hiring spree.
Aviators who train in the Airline Career Pilot Program with ATP will have most of the requirements you mention above when they graduate from the ACPP, as well as have positioned themselves to train other pilots while they build valuable flight experience. Will this make them suitable candidates for interviews at ASA when hiring begins again at ASA?
We have hired a tremendous number of ATP trained pilots over the years and look forward to interviewing your students when our hiring resumes. Let me know if there is anything I can do to encourage young aviators as the career of an airline pilot is one of the most rewarding in the world.