Stand-by for the Mother of All Airline Pilot Shortages!

Posted on 30. Jul, 2009 by in Featured

A huge pilot shortage is looming, especially for the small Commuter or Regional Airlines. Recently proposed crew rest requirements will drive a need to hire more pilots. Pending legislation will slash the available pool of Federally Qualified Part 121 (scheduled carrier) airline pilots.

The industry wrung as much productivity out of the pilot core as the current FARs would allow. The problem was with an increase of productivity came fatigue. When the fatigue mixed with in-experienced crew’s disaster began to follow in a string of well covered accidents. When the industry didn’t act Congress and the FAA did.

Congress and the FAA have acted on both fronts. Congress is set to pass the Airline Safety and Pilot Training Act of 2009; in it is a requirement for pilots to have an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP) before flying for an airline. This will raise the minimum flight time required to fly high performance jet aircraft from 190 hours to 1,500. It is a huge and immediate improvement to safety for the small carriers which now carry almost half of the passengers in the USA. The FAA passed new work rules that will require more crews to fly the same schedule by increasing the crew rest FARs. This action will have an even bigger impact on the immediate safety of the nation’s air carriers.

Nothing however, is done in a vacuum, the rule changes are going to cause the pending pilot shortage to go from the future to right around the corner. Age 65 and productivity gains held it off thus far. Those productivity gains will be reduced, drastically for the Commuters. Two years of the five gained by age 65 are gone in December. Furloughs (laid off pilots) will off-set the crunch in the short term. Mark your calendar for 12/2012, the beginning of the Mother of All Airline Pilot Shortages!

No Responses to “Stand-by for the Mother of All Airline Pilot Shortages!”

  1. Rick 30 July 2009 at 16:50 #

    So how would a pilot get his 1500 hours high performance time without an airline sponsoring him? I’m missing something here. Isn’t that an impossible barrier for the average aspiring commercial pilot? This subject fascinates me, both because I’m a frequent flyer and a private pilot. Even the students at the big universities would have trouble getting to this milestone. Does flying FEDEX or UPS get somebody there?

  2. Rick 30 July 2009 at 16:52 #

    Also, this will present airlines a huge opportunity to raise pricing because they’ll have to cut back their schedules. Unanticipated consequence…but then market forces will come back into play again.

  3. Rick 30 July 2009 at 16:55 #

    OMG I suppose I just realized the answer to comment #1…private charter experience…part 145. Sorry for the dumb question.

  4. Chip 30 July 2009 at 21:06 #

    I think we have reached a water-shed. Many things have changed in the last 20 years.
    1. Airline pilots make less than military pilots now.
    2. Hell for that matter they make less, a captain, than an air traffic controllers.
    3. The cost to become an airline pilot in the same 20 years has gone up 10-20 fold.
    4. Quality of life non-existent.
    5. Retirement, stolen.
    6. Fun? Daily harrassment at security, everyone looking to violate you etc. etc. GONE!

    So bottom line financially: not worth it.
    Retiremnt: DEFINATELY not worth it.
    FUN: Non-existant.

    Personally my biggest regret after almost 30 years of flying was coming into the airline industry. It was a mistake, I should have taken the test pilot job I was offered. But now that I’m here I have no choice but to try and make it better.

    As for the future? I think the un-intended consequence of the ATA’s assault on the profession since 1978 is that they will have to double even triple salaries/benefits to get anyone to apply. And even if that comes to fruition; I wish I took that test job.

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