U.S. airlines face major pilot shortage

  • November 27, 2012
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Ever dreamed of becoming a pilot? Now might be good time to try. According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. airlines are facing their biggest pilot shortage in nearly 50 years.

U.S. airlines pilot shortage
Photo courtesy of marketplace.org

While many senior pilots are retiring, the government is tightening up the rules on training new ones. Starting next summer, all commercial pilots will require a minimum of 1,500 hours flying experience; the current minimum is only 250 hours. This will make training longer and more expensive for aspiring captains, delaying their entry to the industry.

Commercial pilots face mandatory retirement at the age of 65. With the baby boomer generation disappearing from the skies, there simply aren’t enough young pilots to replace them.

The FAA recognizes that a crisis is on the horizon, and is considering changes to the retirement rules to keep experienced pilots on the job. But that would only be a short-term fix; the real challenge is recruiting a new generation.

And how many young folk dream of flying planes these days? The profession is less attractive than it once was. With commercial airlines facing major budget pressure, conditions have gone downhill for everyone in the industry, pilots included. Salary cuts and increased working hours have taken some glamor out of the job.

Many analysts worry that the new training rules will simply choke off the supply of future pilots, ultimately forcing airlines to lower their hiring standards. Regulations meant to improve air safety could actually have the opposite effect.

What’s your take? Are tougher pilot training rules a sensible idea, or will they do more harm than good? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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