While there are more pilots than there are airline jobs today, the
reverse is likely to be true as airlines recover from the economic recession
and begin hiring again, experts on pilot hiring and screening told the National
Transportation Safety Board. The coming shortage may likely fall heaviest on
regional airlines, which generally employ less-experienced pilots, they said.
There are about 54,000 pilots working for major airlines, nearly
19,000 regional airline pilots and about 2,500 qualified pilots available for
hire in the U.S. today, said aviation consultant Judy Tarver, a former pilot
recruiter for American Airlines. She estimated that airlines will need to hire about 42,090
pilots over the next decade, due to retirements and anticipated industry
Panel members said there are far fewer military pilots
leaving for jobs with airline, and airlines increasingly have to compete with
corporations for pilots.
The comments came as the safety board began a three-day forum on how to
get more pilots and air traffic controllers to consistently strive for a
high-level of professionalism.
Paul Rice, a pilot and spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association,
said he shared the panel’s concern that there will be a shortage of experienced
pilots at regional airlines, which account for half of all domestic flights and
are the only scheduled air service to about 400 communities.
Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, said any
pilot shortage won’t affect safety because pilots are trained, certified and