Adding to the concerns focusing on the current shortage of airline pilots, the FAA has reported that the number of pilots attempting to earn an Airline Transport Pilot rating is projected to drop by over 50% between 2016 and 2017. They also report that less than half of the Commercial Multi-Engine Certificates issued last year went to US pilots while the balance went to foreign nationals with no intention of flying for the airlines in the United States.
Following the FAA’s 2013 change in certification requirements for becoming an ATP-rated pilot, a requirement for hiring by Part 121 carriers, FAA data shows the number of ATP practical tests being administered in the United States is declining, following two years of declining numbers of applicants for the ATP knowledge exam. ATP numbers peaked in 2016 at over 8,000 certificate issuances. If the current monthly trend continues this year, that number is expected to reach only about 3,300.
Additionally, the overall number of pilots earning commercial multi-engine certificates has remained flat while the percentage of those tests being completed by U.S. pilots has declined significantly. In 2007, fully two-thirds of commercial multi-engine certificates went to U.S. citizens. By the end of last year, U.S. citizens earned slightly less than half the multi-engine commercial certificates issued in this country.
While the number of non-U.S. pilots training in flight schools here is increasing, most non-U.S. pilot graduates eventually depart for cockpit careers in other parts of the world, making them unavailable to fill any U.S. commercial pilot positions. These students provide valuable flight time to U.S. instructors employed at flight schools, experience that will eventually lead them to qualify for their own ATP certificate and feed the pilot demands here in the states, but with fewer U.S. commercial qualified pilots, the overall number available for airline employment will likely decline.
ATP is unique among the flight schools in the United States that are large enough to have an impact on the pilot shortage. For over thirty years, our student pilot group has been primarily made up of US citizens, as is our cadre of instructors who will soon be flying for the airlines here in the United States. Join the growing group of students at ATP who are training full time to begin an exciting career flying for the US Airline Industry. You will quickly follow them in beginning a lucrative career that will earn you the opportunity to fly for a living with one of the leading airlines in the world.