Rumors of a pilot shortage have been looming for months now and with a lot of controversy being stirred up over its overall impact on the commercial aviation world. Airlines says that there is no shortage on the horizon while flight schools and independent consultants are all saying that the new 1500 hour minimum for airline pilots along with the more stringent on duty time has created a pilot shortage now.
What isn’t that debatable is the number of pilot that are scheduled to retire in the next 6 to 8 years will be anywhere from 14000 to 18000 pilots. That’s a lot of pilots retiring. These retirements are predictable and are a result of the legislative mandatory retirement age of 65 years old.
The major airlines are better equipped to handle a pilot shortage for the reason that they are the ultimate destination for most commercial flyers. Generally speaking airline pilots for the regional airlines are basically all building time and seniority to ultimately secure a job with the big boys and fly around in some heavy metal to exotic destinations like Paris, Rome and Tahiti.
But until then they are biding their time flying into Cedar Rapids, Tupelo and Minot in much smaller regional jets or prop planes. These regional airlines know they are going to be hard pressed to find qualified pilots so they are beginning to do something that isn’t that unique but they are doing it higher volumes. They are inking deals with colleges, universities and flight schools all around the country to provide them with qualified pilots that are trained to their liking.
Envoy Air, the old American Eagle, has inked a few deals recently with more than one school to accomplish the goal of providing them with qualified candidates, right out of school. They have recently signed a deal with Tulsa Community College to train their current aviation major students to a CFI position and then use them as CFI’s to train the younger class-men all the while building time and waiting to transition right into the Envoy ranks. The current students are loving this, they feel this really helps them see a finish line at the end of their schooling. Envoy is also sweetening the pot a bit too, not only is their a streamlined process to get an interview for a job, but once it’s landed Envoy is also offering a $10,000 signing bonus, yup that’s right $10,o00!
Flight students have always been taught that an airline job would be difficult to obtain and that it would be far off, but this deal is helping them realize that in the grand scheme of it all it’s only right around the corner.
Envoy is looking to also set up the same programs all over Oklahoma, OSU, OU , Spartan School of Aeronautics and even Southeastern Oklahoma State University will have the same programs too. Like I mentioned earlier these programs aren’t new. Schools within the US have been training pilots and providing an education for foreign students for years too, a lot of them are in contract with the countries of the student’s origin to train and send back qualified pilots.
Aerosim Flight Academy in Sanford, FL currently is showing a partnership with 9 separate regional airlines. According to their website they have placed over 300 of their trained and employed flight instructors to 30 different airlines. Of course we need to mention the Harvard of the sky, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (my alma mater!) has a very good program that requires a student to maintain a 3.0 in their major studies and be enrolled in their Pathway Program for a flight student to be on the way to an airline job right out of school.
So if you are looking for an airline job be sure to pick a program that is right for you. Are you looking for an education as well? Then be sure to choose one that will provide that, but if you have an education already then there are plenty of opportunities for you to explore that will provide the flight training needed to get you into the right seat of an airliner. But remember to enjoy the ride the training, the learning is all part of the fun, and also remember that the training and the learning should never end. In flying it’s a lifelong passion to learn more and continue to polish your skills.