The business industry aviation is just as essential to our economy like paved roads and the trucking business. It’s how we’re able to transport not only people, but also goods and services from one part of our country to another. The aviation business as a whole became the top source of transportation, far surpassing the innovation of the steam engine, the automobile, and the railroad. The aviation industry is the fastest, most efficient way to get things from point A to point B.
Pilot Shortage. An Issue That Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly
So, if there’s even a concern about pilot shortage, immediate action is required. The problem is, not much, in many people’s opinion, is being done to address this concern. The issue of a pilot shortage is something that shouldn’t be ignored. If it continues to remain unchecked, the survival of business aviation could be at risk, cutting off access to the most isolated areas resulting in a massive loss of jobs and a detrimental hit to our nation’s economy.
What’s Causing the Pilot Shortage?
Today, business aviation companies are already increasing their pilots’ salaries in order to keep them from accepting jobs in the commercial airlines. It’s speculated that more pilots are taking commercial pilot jobs because people are simply unaware of the opportunities that exist in business aviation. The inability to create awareness and interest has been one of the many reasons we’ve failed to keep up with the demands of our industry. The poaching of business aviation pilots is just one of the reasons that many professionals in the aviation industry foresee a pilot shortage.
The average age of most pilots in the United States is 48 according to Sunrise Aviation. Authority permits pilots to retire at the age of 65 for safety reasons. That means that there will be a massive exodus of pilots retiring, leaving many pilot positions open. The question stands then, is why is there all of the sudden a pilot shortage now? Why not just train more promising candidates to pilot aircrafts?
The answer goes back to the growing industry of commercial airlines. The recent provisional orders for more aircrafts are projected to employ 255,000 pilots by the year 2027 according to CAE Inc. Dennis Tajer, a representative of American Airlines pilots reported that their company is planning to hire 900 pilots this year. Looking at the bigger picture, a Boeing study has projected a whopping demand of at least 637,000 new pilots within the next 20 years.
The competition between private aviation business and commercial airline rallying for talented pilots is an ongoing struggle that business aviation is unfortunately losing. There’s also past events such as other aviation companies going out of business and the competitors absorbing the talent of the pilots and other out-of-work employees—essentially evening out the scale of supply and demand.
Something needs to be done to prevent the foreseeable massive shortage. The solution is simple, but the process of meeting that solution is not.
Train More Pilots!
This sounds easy enough, but there is really only one obstacle that is preventing the overflow of good pilots for the aviation industry to choose from, and that’s money. This financial issue is broken down into three tiers: cost of flight training, lack of financial aid for flight training, and the low salary pay for new graduates.
- Cost of Flight Training
Aviation school is not cheap. Like a driver’s license, there are different classes of pilots’ licenses. As such, the cost of the kind of pilots’ license you apply for varies. This is something to thoroughly look into before committing to flight school.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association reports the following numbers for obtaining a pilot’s license:
- Private Pilot’s License – $9,900
- Recreational Pilot’s License – $7,700
- Sports Pilot’s License – $4,400
Of course, with so many online training courses available, you can pay as little as $1,000 for a flight class. This however, is the equivalent of taking a non-accredited medical course and trying to enter the healthcare profession as a surgeon. It’s just not going to happen. Training hours, rental costs, and books and supplies for ground school all need to be factored into the cost of flight school. This all can add up to the cost of a college education.
Business aviation companies are looking for top-of-the-class pilots. A pilot who is looking for a solid career in the business aviation industry will need to invest in a quality flight-training program.
- Lack of Financial Aid for Flight Training
This brings us to our next issue—lack of financial aid for flight training. While there are some tuition scholarships for aspiring pilots, there simply isn’t enough to meet the growing demand of the profession.
- Low Pay for a New Pilot Graduate
The pay for a new pilot graduate may not always offset the cost of the education. Most of the better-paying pilot jobs will be for pilots with a high number of flight hours. So, while the potential to earn a decent salary is certainly there, it takes time to gain the experience to become a great pilot. On the other hand, business aviation companies are realizing if they aren’t paying pilots the market rate, they will lose them to the competition.
But first, we have to get the pilots!
If you have any ideas about how to bring more pilots into the business aviation industry, contact Offland Media at 1-800-604-5193 and let’s talk!