Go Back  Airline Pilot Central Forums > Airline Pilot Forums > Regional
Another Pilot Shortage Article... >

Another Pilot Shortage Article...

Notices
Regional Regional Airlines

Another Pilot Shortage Article...

Old 08-02-2007, 02:26 PM
  #1  
Gets Weekends Off
Thread Starter
 
jelloy683's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Mar 2007
Posts: 152
Default Another Pilot Shortage Article...

Byline: Source: FAA/Rich Clabaugh staff
Headline: Airlines face pilot shortage
Byline: Alexandra Marks Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Date: 08/02/2007

New York - The aviation industry is on the rebound financially, but a looming pilot shortage could create some unexpected turbulence.

For a view of what this could mean for passengers, one need only look to Northwest Airlines.

Since last Friday, the Minneapolis-based carrier has canceled hundreds of flights because it hasn't had enough pilots in reserve to fly all of the planes it had scheduled and handle all of the overtime created by summer weather delays.

The result: Thousands of passengers like Maria Montoya, who spent seven hours trying to get from Detroit to New York, were delayed, rerouted, and frustrated.

Aviation experts say that Northwest's cancellations are unique, a product of the carrier's overzealous cost-cutting to lift itself out of bankruptcy, which it did this past May. But as the industry continues to recover, they warn, demand for new pilots could soon outstrip the supply. And unless airlines start aggressively recruiting and training new pilots now, such problems could affect the entire industry. Key reasons for the potential shortfall: Flying has lost much of its glamour, and not enough young people want to become pilots. Smaller and regional carriers are already having trouble hiring new pilots and have lowered their standards, requiring fewer hours of flying experience.

"It's really a pretty big problem, and we're just awakening to it,"
says Kit Darby, president of AIR Inc., a job resource center for pilots in Atlanta. "It takes time to create really experienced pilots. We're going to have a shortage for a while."

Since 2002, four major airlines have gone bankrupt and thousands of pilots have been furloughed. Many of those who remained saw their wages cut by as much as 40 and 50 percent. Many also lost their pensions and had to give up hard-won work conditions. For an 18-year-old looking for a career, the blue uniform with its gold captain's stripes may not have seemed as appealing as before.

That's reflected in pilot license data: The number of student pilot licenses that the Federal Aviation Administration issues has steadily declined from a peak of 98,000 in 1998 to 85,000 in 2006. The number of commercial pilot licenses issued has dropped from 124,000 in 1999 to 117,000 in 2006.

At the same time, major carriers like Northwest started relying more on smaller regional carriers to feed their network systems.
Traditionally, those regional carriers were where new pilots paid their dues, working for about $25,000 or less per year for several years before going to the more lucrative airlines, where senior pilots could eventually make $200,000 or more. But as major carriers cut back on pilots' benefits at the top, they also created more low-paying jobs at the bottom. That's where the pilot shortage is being felt most now.

"Almost every regional carrier out there cannot hire enough pilots, and many of them have lowered the requirements down to the minimum FAA standards," says Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association. Many regional airlines formerly required a minimum of 1,500 hours of flying experience for new pilots, according to aviation experts. The FAA minimum that some now require is 250 hours.

Northwest's pilot shortage stems from several factors. The airline has just emerged from bankruptcy, and, as a result of cost-cutting, it didn't have enough pilots on reserve to cover the overtime that typically comes with summer thunderstorm delays and peak travel-season crowds.

The pilots union contends the problem was mismanagement. The company denies that and says the problem was absenteeism
pilots calling in sick to make a point.

To respond to the shortage, Northwest has announced it will hire more pilots, cut back on the number of hours some pilots are required to fly, and reduce the number of flights scheduled for August.

"We expect our operations to improve with the steps we have put in place," says Roman Blahoski, a Northwest Airlines spokesman.

Northwest and the other major carriers have already recalled most of the 10,000 pilots they furloughed during the past five years. And in response to Northwest's current pilot crisis, the carrier also plans to hire 250 to 300 more. Mr. Darby says Northwest will have no problem finding people to fill those jobs even though major carriers are now paying pilots about 20 to 30 percent less than in 2000.
Senior pilots can still eventually earn over six figures.

Some aviation analysts see this pilot shortage as just part of the aviation industry's boom and bust nature. "This is not the first time we've seen this kind of cycle," says Clint Oster, an aviation expert at Indiana University at Bloomington. "There's always been a little bit of a lag after some years of contraction."

The problem could be remedied, Professor Oster says, particularly if the regional carriers started increasing their base salaries for pilots to attract more young people. Pilot working conditions at the larger carriers may improve as major airlines rebound, says Darby. He believes that pilots will ultimately win back many of the concessions they've made.

Passengers like Ms. Montoya are counting on the industry to sort itself out. "It's getting to the point where you can't rely on the airline to get you to be where you need to be. It's really frustrating," she says. "But I've figured out how to work the system:
You take the first flight out and hope you get there by the end of the day."

jelloy683 is offline  
Old 08-02-2007, 04:24 PM
  #2  
Banned
 
Joined APC: Jan 2006
Position: A-320
Posts: 6,929
Default

CAL Here I come
JoeyMeatballs is offline  
Old 08-02-2007, 04:31 PM
  #3  
Gets Weekends Off
 
SharkAir's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Apr 2007
Posts: 492
Default

Aside from being in an EEOC protected class, what makes one regional jet captain stand out from the other couple thousand on the market?

There's a pilot shortage, just not at the majors. At least not yet.
SharkAir is offline  
Old 08-02-2007, 05:03 PM
  #4  
Prime Minister/Moderator
 
rickair7777's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Jan 2006
Position: Engines Turn Or People Swim
Posts: 31,145
Default

Originally Posted by SharkAir View Post
Aside from being in an EEOC protected class, what makes one regional jet captain stand out from the other couple thousand on the market?
Family
Friends
Military Flight Time
Any Military Service
Education (including masters)
Lack of violations, disciplinary actions, criminal history, etc.
Interesting outside activities
Personality/Physical Appearance
Total PIC time (some majors are rumored to avoid guys who have been on the same seat and airplane for many years, supposedly a training risk)

In other words an RJ driver with an AA from ITT tech who's out of shape and plays a lot of video games is probably going to stay on the RJ....
rickair7777 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Sr. Barco
Regional
89
09-15-2013 08:22 PM
Herc130AV8R
Military
25
03-22-2008 06:22 PM
Sr. Barco
Major
34
07-31-2007 02:01 PM
SayAgain
Fractional
11
07-08-2007 08:28 PM
Beertini
Cargo
361
07-07-2007 01:56 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread