The service of air transportation is expected to double by the year 2036. Currently, the International Air Transport Association states that there are 4 billion air travelers. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that there is an estimated 609,306 pilots who are active and certified. This number should and needs to be higher. As the demand for air travel continually increases, the number of pilots are also decreasing. This is unacceptable and we shouldn’t have let this happened. There is a solution to this, but first we need to understand how we got here so that we don’t repeat these mistakes because even though the business aviation industry remains afloat, the reality is that we should much further along.
Where We Went Wrong
When it comes to moving the economy along, the natural order of things is to teach and guide the younger generation to follow in our footsteps, take the mantle and make us proud. The problem occurred when the Baby Boomer populations ceased to follow that order. Insistent to maintain traditional business operations, the private aviation industry missed out on the paradigm shift that the internet brought to the business. For a while, it didn’t seem to matter. Back then, business was still doing quite well and we didn’t need much assistance from Generation X. Baby Boomers essentially adopted the “damn dirty hippies” mentality of their parents and decided to keep conducting business as usual. Business aviation was just getting started in the 1970s. In fact, that decade was in the process of it’s own paradigm shift introducing enormous turbofan engines with more thrust resulting in faster flight travel. There were fewer people flying, so every seat was First Class. Then, the pilots were young, mostly in their early 20s. You probably had some older pilots who served in the military as well. It was an exciting time for flight travel and there just didn’t seem to be any room for what seemed to be the unruly Generation X population.
Fast forward to 2018 and pilots are now approaching the age where retirement is mandatory and there is no one to pass the mantle to.
You can be as young as 16 years old to acquire a pilot’s license, so it’s certainly not too late to start recruiting pilots, but you have to have at least 1,500 hours of flight experience to fly a jet, and you really need to acquire at least 3,000 flight hours in order to really be taken seriously to pilot a passenger aircraft. It takes at least 40 hours to get a private jet license, but as you can see, it takes a heck of lot more hours for someone to replace a pilot with over 30 years of experience.
The bottom line is that our pilots are retiring and there aren’t enough new pilots with enough flight experience to replace them right away. Even if we start recruiting pilots now, it’s going to take a while before they gain enough flight experience to fly passenger aircrafts. So, we should expect the pilot shortage to get much worse before it gets better.
The way to avoid this is to stay connected with the younger generation. Offland Media can help you do this. We are a premier digital media company dedicated to providing relevant and up-to-date information and trends about the business aviation industry.
Be part of the solution!
Contribute to the business aviation industry by imparting your knowledge and experience. Contact an Offland Media Consultant at 1-800-604-5193, or schedule a free consultation online today!