Why Aren’t There Enough Airline Pilots? Part Two

I was recently invited by AOPA to give a presentation at
the Aviation Summit in Long Beach, California. I was there to talk
about how to get a good flying job in today’s improving economy. I began by informing the audience of aviators and guests that there was good news, that the airline industry had turned the economic corner and the resulting profitability meant pilots are being recruited and hired by both Regional Airlines and Major Airlines alike.


In the previous blog offering I began to share some of the reasons for the present pilot recruiting environment as well as how qualified candidates for new flying jobs in
the airline industry most definitely will be in short supply in the near future. I touched on the fact that many furloughed pilots have gone overseas to fly for foreign airlines and will
not be available to return to the positions that they were furloughed from. I
also spoke about the fact that our military is no longer going to be producing
large numbers of retiring pilots to fly for the airlines.

Further deepening the shortage of new pilots to fly for
the airlines, the worst recession in 80 years ravaged our country’s economy and as a result student loans to fund flight training became very scarce and hard to qualify
for. This has accounted for an enormous shortage of pilots currently
training to work in the airline industry.

For example, ATP is the largest flight training academy in the United States and provides training for more pilot certifications than any other flight
school, college or academy anywhere in this country.

ATP has trained over 3,300 pilots to successfully earn
their FAA Airmen Certificates and ratings in the last 12 months. Although this
is an impressive number, it actually illustrates the fact that the volume of
these advanced flight training students has been reduced by more than 50%
compared to number of airmen we have trained in years past. A LOT of flight schools have gone out of business because of this situation, and most of those that remain are suffering much larger reductions than 50%.

The pilots that have been able to begin flight training are positioning themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that will be available to them due to the expanding needs of the airlines. The airline industry will have to wait a while for these newly trained pilots to be qualified to fly airliners in this country though. Recently enacted legislation takes affect soon which requires that anyone hired to fly for a Part 121 Airline (all of the airlines in the United States are Part 121 Airlines) holds an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate. Presently only pilots who have over 1,500 hours of flight experience qualify to become ATPs. Until now pilots were required to have 250 hours of quality flight experience to be hired for entry level flying jobs for the airlines.

In the next post I will talk about the most compelling
reason that the airline industry is going to face great challenges when
recruiting and hiring qualified pilots to fill their cockpits.