|By Carmelo Turdo
The commercial airline pilot shortage has been identified in several studies, with varying conclusions. A General Accounting Office (GAO) report, GAO-14-232 - Aviation Workforce: Current and Future Availability of Airline Pilots, published in February 2014, cites four industry studies that forecast the need for 2,000-4,500 new U.S. airline pilots per year over the next decade - the lower projections due to growth and the larger ones include attrition. The study also reveals a statistic that should be noted: "While there were over 72,000 airline pilots employed in 2012, FAA data show a total of 137,658 active pilots under the age of 65 who held ATP certificates, as of January 6, 2014." (p.19 GAO-14-232 Aviation Workforce). Why aren't the additional ATPs making themselves available for the demand seen in the studies? Also, there is a large pool of commercial and instrument rated pilots not progressing to ATP ratings, and the growth of Certified Flight Instructors (CFIs) has remained flat. According to the GAO's analysis, the rate of growth in CFIs has positive association to the growth of ATPs, while there is a negative association to the cost of flight training. (p.27 GAO-14-232 Aviation Workforce). Also, due in part to cost, enrollment in aviation degree-programs is in decline nationally. A reasonable conclusion may be that the difficulty in filling ATP positions within the commercial airlines is affected by the lack of current growth in CFI pool as a pathway to ATP, the high cost of pilot training and aviation degree programs and the lack of incentive for current ATPs to take commercial airline crew positions. Other obstacles include the requirement that the ATP pilots have a bachelor's degree, as stipulated by most commercial airlines, and the cost of acquiring the nearly 1,000 flying hours requirement. The GAO report is worth a review by anyone interested in the commercial airline pilot staffing issues now and through the next decade.
|GoJet Chief Pilot Randy Bratcher
|Trans States Dir. of Flight Operations Keith Stamper
The Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association (GSLFIA) is an important member of the local aviation community. GSLFIA promotes aviation safety through FAA-sponsored programs and cooperative efforts with local aviation groups. The Annual Flight Instructor Revalidation Clinic, Midwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show and Aviation Awards Banquet are significant events that area pilots consistently attend. The Aero Experience thanks the GSLFIA, Air Associates of Missouri and all participants for contributing solutions to the potential commercial airline pilot shortage in the decade to come.