Cessna CEO Pelton Says Pilot Shortage Looming

Cessna CEO Jack Pelton has been necessarily concerned about a
shortage of customers in the past 18 months but he’s shifted his gaze to a new
threat on the horizon and that’s a shortage of pilots. Pelton told the Aero
Club of Washington this week that the FAA estimates the number of student pilots will
hit a 10-year low this year. “This is a problem for all of us in aviation,
and all of us should be part of the solution,” Pelton said. “Fewer
pilots equate to less business for all of us, and it threatens the strong,
sustainable aviation system our nation counts on.”


Cessna

Pelton said the military no longer trains enough pilots to fill
airline cockpits and GI Bill-type incentives are a thing of the past. GA groups
have created numerous programs to try to stimulate growth in pilot numbers but
Pelton said now it’s time the government stepped up. “Congress should give
serious consideration to permitting flight training under the Post 9/11 GI
Bill,” he said. “We need legislation that fosters and stimulates our
industry.”

Pelton reiterated his belief that the recovery of the industry
will be long but he said there are some hopeful signs. Used aircraft inventories
are falling and flight hours are up. The perception of aviation as a wasteful
perk for the ultra rich has been turned around and the legitimate use of
aviation as a business tool has been embraced in the form of general aviation
appreciation days across the country. He said changing the perception was
largely the result of aviation groups getting together to get that message out.
The Department of Transportation has also formed a blue chip committee on the
future of aviation, of which Pelton is a member. “This cooperation we’ve
experienced in GA must span all areas of aviation,” he said.

Other quotes from Mr. Pelton:

“Fewer pilots equate to less business for all of us, and it threatens the
strong, sustainable aviation system our nation counts on.”

“General aviation is the pipeline for flight instructors and regional and
commercial pilots. A smaller pool of qualified pilots could prevent airlines
from expanding to new routes, and it could also mean lower training
requirements.”

“Gone are the days when the military was producing all the pilots the airlines
could absorb, or when a broader GI Bill funded expansive flight training for
veterans returning to civilian life.”