Last week I attended the Winter Meeting of the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) which was hosted by Auburn University in Auburn Alabama. The meeting brought together an impressive group made up of airline executives from the major and regional and international airlines, educators from around the world, Boeing, manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, Airlines for America, ICAO and the FAA. We had all traveled to Auburn to discuss a severe problem facing the airline industry; the shortage of commercial pilots qualified to fly for the airlines.
Captain Darrin Greubel from ExpressJet was a speaker at the meeting and gave a presentation that described the shortage in real terms. ExpressJet ran out of resumes from qualified pilots last March. Since then the bankruptcy of Pinnacle and the shuttering of Comair injected some life into recruiting efforts by ExpressJet, but once again this March ExpressJet will be out of resumes. This is coming at a time when ExpressJet needs to hire hundreds of pilots due to forced retirements and expansion at the major airlines. It is assumed that the Majors will be able to hire experienced pilots off of the Regional Airlines seniority lists with ease, but the Majors will need more pilots then are presently flying for the Regional Airlines in this entire country.
United Airlines sent Captain Marc Champion to speak, and he described the pilot shortage as they see it at United. He was armed with the facts: 30,000 new pilots needed at the Majors by the year 2025, 27,000 Airline Pilots will retire by 2025, there are only 18,000 Regional Airline Pilots flying in the United States right now and the airline industry is only getting 500 pilots a year from the military, and that last number will only go down in the future. He said that the problem clearly lies with United’s Regional Partners hiring enough pilots to provide the capacity necessary to feed passengers to the mainline operation.
There were other speakers of course, but they were all reporting the same set of facts: The pilot shortage is upon us now and the industry is in dire need of new airline pilots. The next discussion will be how to attract and train new pilots in the numbers necessary to keep the airline industry’s aircraft in the air.
If you are interested in flying for the airlines then flight training with ATP is the most direct path to an airline career.