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Old 05-20-2007, 10:14 AM   #1  
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Default The Real Pilot Shortage

There is currently no pilot shortage in the United States.
There is a shortage of qualified pilots in the U.S.

Regional Hiring Minimums
Regional airlines pay crappy starting wages ($25,000 a year) and thus are having a hard time recruiting qualified pilots. Thus you have seen the massive lowering of regional airline hiring minimums to recruit new, lower time pilots, who wouldn’t have otherwise been in the regional job pool. The majority of regional airlines have their minimums in the 600/100 range or LOWER! They can’t recruit qualified pilots, so they lower their mins to bring in less qualified pilots. The problem with lowering mins is they can only go so low. Trans States and PSA, along with others through various arrangements (Mesa, Pinnacle, Piedmont, …) have already hit rock bottom. If these airlines wish to recruit pilots, they will need to find another strategy. Signing bonuses seem to be working well, but these are only temporary and can only do so much.

Supply of new pilots:
The supply of pilots is continuing to decrease.
In 2002, there were 28,659 private pilot licenses issued.
In 2005, there were 20,889 private pilot licenses issued.
The average age has increased from 44.6 to 47.4 over the past 10 years.

In 2002, there were 12,299 commercial licenses issued.
In 2005, there were 8,834 commercial licenses issued.
The average age has increased from 43.7 to 46.0 over the past 10 years.

In 2001, there were 7,070 airline transport pilot licenses issued.
In 2005, there were 4,750 airline transport pilot licenses issued.
The average age has increased from 44.9 to 47.8 over the past 10 years.

Fewer people are learning to fly for fun than anytime in the past 40 years. It is too darn expensive. AvGas costs between $4-$5 a gallon, and it will not go much lower. It can certainly increase. More and more flight-training students are “wannabe” airline pilots. Even with these new fast track pilot academies (ATP, Flight Safety, Pan Am, Delta Connection, etc…), the amount of commercial and ATP licenses has declined drastically over the past 4 years. The word is getting out that becoming an airline pilot is not what it used to be.

Age 60
Changing age 60 will drastically increase the supply of pilots. There are currently 141,992 airline transport pilots. Over the next 12 years, half of those (about 70,000) will be unable to fly for an airline (assuming age 60). Perhaps a more reliable number is that at least 20,000 pilots will retire from the “good” airlines over the next 10 years assuming age 60. (AA, UAL, DAL, CAL, US Air, FedEx, UPS, SWA). And that is not counting Northwest, ABX, Astar, Air Tran, Frontier, JetBlue, Alaska, Midwest, Spirit, ATA, and ALL the regional airlines. (Not saying these weren’t “good” airlines, I just don’t have the retirement numbers for them). Not only would changing age 60 stagnate everything for about 5 years, it would have a compounding affect on supply. Every pilot who works a day past age 60 is increasing the supply of pilots. Every pilot who works more years because he has not advanced as quick because of a change to age 60 will increase the supply of pilots. The only possible advantage is some younger guys may realize changing age 60 will make their career that much worse that they may not get into flying, and that may decrease the supply of pilots slightly.
There is a pilot shortage in Europe. There is a pilot shortage in the Middle East. There is a pilot shortage in Asia. The ICAO changed age 60 because of economics (they needed more pilots to fly). It had nothing to do with safety. In the US, we do not have a pilot shortage. Age 60 does not need to be changed!

Growth in Air Travel:
There are currently approximately 60,000 pilots employed at the major airlines with another 20,000 employed at the regional airlines. Approximately 750 million passengers flew on US commercial airlines in 2006. By 2015, the FAA expects that number to reach 1 billion, and 1.2 billion by the year 2020. The amount of pilots required to fly these passengers will certainly need to increase (lets assume we need 50% more pilots by 2020). That’s another 30,000 major airline jobs and another 10,000 regional airline jobs over the next 13 years. There are currently over 3,000 VLJ’s on order from several manufacturers. With the hassles of airline travel and dealing with the TSA especially, there is certain to be expansion in the corporate/fractional/air taxi section of the market, and thus more pilots needed.


There is currently no pilot shortage in the United States.
There is a shortage of qualified pilots in the U.S.
There will never be a shortage of pilots at the major level. There may be a shortage at the regional/135/CFI level in the coming future. The tightening supply of pilots will eventually help our cause of wanting better pay and quality of life. Regionals will try to lower minimums until they hit rock bottom. Airlines will try to push a change to age 60.

The supply of pilots is tightening. But there is no shortage of pilots in the U.S., only a shortage of qualified pilots at the regional/135/CFI level. There will never be a pilot shortage at the major level.
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Old 05-20-2007, 10:46 AM   #2  
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There are absolutely NOT 142,000 airline pilots in the US.

Also age 65 will not create a 5 year stagnation...many current pilots will not have the stamina or desire to continue that long, and for those that have retirements, they will still be eligible at age 60 (unless the union agrees to extend that too ). Out of those pilots that do wish to continue, not all will be able to hold a medical. My guess is a hiring slowdown equivalent to a a two year stagnation (just a gues of course).
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Old 05-20-2007, 12:24 PM   #3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aerospacepilot View Post
. . . The supply of pilots is continuing to decrease. . . . The average age has increased from 44.6 to 47.4 over the past 10 years. . . . . the amount of commercial and ATP licenses has declined drastically over the past 4 years. . . . There is a pilot shortage in Europe. There is a pilot shortage in the Middle East. There is a pilot shortage in Asia.

Approximately 750 million passengers flew on US commercial airlines in 2006. By 2015, the FAA expects that number to reach 1 billion, and 1.2 billion by the year 2020. The amount of pilots required to fly these passengers will certainly need to increase (lets assume we need 50% more pilots by 2020). That’s another 30,000 . . .

there is no shortage of pilots in the U.S.

[.????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????]


only a shortage of qualified pilots at the regional/135/CFI level. There will never be a pilot shortage at the major level.
Check back in three years. It's going to be interesting.

Last edited by Ftrooppilot; 05-20-2007 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 05-20-2007, 01:13 PM   #4  
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This, coming from the same guy who thinks that airline execs aren't stuffing their cashboxes full of savings generated by fuel management and crew concessions.
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Old 05-20-2007, 01:17 PM   #5  
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Default shortage of qualified pilots or is it a shortage of the willing?

I do not think he said there were 145,000 atp's who are working, just that they exist, presumably according to some valid source such as the FAA. This is an example of how statistics can be misleading, since you cannot assume that if someone has an atp then they also fly for a living. A very large number of such atp holders appear to exist at the present, whether it be for ego reasons or for the job qualification, perhaps they left the job as a former pilot or they have the cert because flying is cache and you get laid more from having one.

SkyHigh said he was trying to get better statistical information from the FAA in a recent post, and I can vouch that this is a very hard task as I have tried to get specific statistical data from the FAA by email and had a very hard go of it. They do not know or care as much about it as we do.

As far as the gist of this post goes, I admire Mr. Aerospace for writing it and I think he is basically right in what he is saying, but he has applied the statistics a little bit inaccurately. His basic assumption is that there is a shortage of qualified pilots, something I do not agree with, observation being there is a shortage of qualified pilots who will work for less than middle class wages, not a shortage of qualified pilots. As a matter of fact I am a member of the former group and have elected in the last few months to stay in a non-aviation sector of the US economy because the income new pilots achieve is less than a third of what they can get elsewhere in the American economy. I came out of engineering school a year ago and started off at 3... count em three... times the starting pay of a professional pilot. I am an example of someone who would love to fly for a living but will not, simply because the economics and wage offerings are so poor. The pilot supply is glutted with men who will fly for nothing. I would like to ask them in 5 years how it went, not without sarcasm, because I see folly going on in their thinking. I know several such persons who offered $50,000+ worth of training they obtained usually at the expense of their parents, for little more than a chance to play an airline lottery game. I do not have a lot of respect for their actions.

Last edited by Cubdriver; 05-20-2007 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 05-20-2007, 01:35 PM   #6  
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everyonce in a while i think that i should have gotten a degree in something other than aviation, and that i could easily enjoy a career in engineering or design.

I know skyhigh had commented before that people do this job because it sounds "cool, or interesting" and can have a conversation about it at dinner parties, then you get in your yugo and drive home. So maybe, if i was starting all over again, i would have gone into aerospace engineering or design, solid future, enjoyable future, and learned to fly in my spare time, on the same note, i'd probably end up 40 years old wondering if life would be different if i was flying some fancy jet for an airline.

Double edged sword, and only time will tell if i've made the right decision.
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Old 05-20-2007, 01:59 PM   #7  
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Take my words in the spirit of conversation. I am 39. When I was 25 I was a wild man looking for love at any cost, let alone job and career. Those who opt for airline life are my brothers and sisters, and I hope they find fulfillment in that endeavor because nothing matters in the end, except that they were persons of integrity and held out for what they believed in.
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Old 05-20-2007, 03:01 PM   #8  
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Here's a thought for someone who has a little extra time on their hands- go through all the companies listed on APC and add up the total pilots per company. Though subject to some error (furloughs etc), it may be a more accurate than FAA info to determine total pilot figures.
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Old 05-20-2007, 03:27 PM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flynavyj View Post
Double edged sword, and only time will tell if i've made the right decision.
If you're still at TSA, you haven't.
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Old 05-20-2007, 04:37 PM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aerospacepilot View Post
There is currently no pilot shortage in the United States. There is a shortage of qualified pilots in the U.S.
This is like saying , "There is no shortage of military pilots if war breaks out. There is only a shortage of qualified military pilots. We have all those retired military pilots we could call back. "

All those retired military pilots (including me) are already flying for the airlines or aviation industry, have gone on to other non-flying careers, or are just plain retired. They are no longer QUALIFIED to fly military aircraft - non current, to old and too slow. I HATE THE TRUTH.

Thinking all those "unqualfied" civilian pilots out there will solve the airline pilot shortage is having "your head in the sand."

I'll stick my neck out and recommend an airline funded national pilot training program similar to the old " USAF Aviation cadet program." It should be conducted by a government contractor whose performance is evaluated by the USAF or NAVY training commands.

- no college required, no prior aviation experience required
- no cost to those selected for program (small salary)
- extensive screening, testing and interview for entry
- one year long on a re-opened UPT base
- programed attrition (performance not money gets you through)
- trained to be an airline pilot (turns on a tree are out)
- evaluates personal traits and piloting skills
- graduates get "industrial (not military) secret security clearance
- all check rides given by FAA
- use a high performance single engine turbo to determine piloting skills
- learn to fly upside down and do spins (good for you)
- use the simulator and multi-jet for advanced training
- only cost to student is one year of "busting your but or else"
- 10% of each class stay as instructors and have delayed airline entry (Union seniority # assigned at graduation)
- graduates must work for airline for five years or reimburse costs
- 50 grads, 50 airline openings, #1 in class picks, then #2, etc.

This doesn't eliminate other programs (UND, ERAU, FBOs, etc); it's just a way of attacking the problem. I'm sure many of you have better ideas or changes. Let's hear them.
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