by Brian Carhide
If you peruse some of the pilot forums on the internet for information about the impending pilot shortage, many will say it’s a fairytale. In regards to the big picture, there is truth to that perception. In the U.S., we are still in a hiring lag from the retirement age increase in 2007, and a “true pilot shortage” could still be 5 or more years away – if the FAA doesn’t raise the retirement age, again. One major airline’s recent strategic planning has indicated this may be a possibility.
The good news, according to FAPA, a few of the regional airlines have plans to hire a number of pilots during 2013. The majority of the need for pilots at these regionals is due in part to the new crew rest requirements. The other conundrum to pilot hiring in 2013 is the new law that requires any pilot wanting to fly for a FAR Part 121 passenger carrying operation to have an Air Transport Pilot certificate and 1500 hours total time.
Recently in the Career Services Office, I have communicated with several regional airlines interested in developing pipeline and bridge programs with Embry-Riddle. This is a good indicator that the airlines are seeing a need to have a solid pool of pilots and to aid in bridging the gap for flight instructors to the regional airlines. I feel the regional airlines envision a growing increase in demand and a declining supply of pilots, hence the interest in developing these types of agreements with key organizations.
Since 2013 began, companies seeking qualified flight instructors have plateaued, but there are still an abundance of CFI opportunities to be found. I feel those low-time CFIs that are willing to relocate will find some great time building opportunities and gain valuable experience. Because of the way supply and demand is heading, those motivated pilots who reach 1500 hours will have some golden opportunities during an exciting time for the industry.
Smaller companies outside of the regional airlines are also planning to hire during 2013 but on a smaller scale. Operations such as Ameriflight, Cape Air, and XOJet have indicated they are recruiting and interviewing for pilots. The advantage these companies have is the 1500 hour requirement does not affect them. However, it is still a viable career path and a great way to build some flight time.
2013 may not be the year of the grand pilot shortage we have all been hearing about, but pilot hiring will continue to move in a positive direction. In speaking with one of the recruiters from a regional airline, who has been in this industry for over 30 years, about future pilot hiring, he stated, “This is definitely an exciting time for young pilots!”
Brian Carhide has more than 20 years of professional aviation experience. He spent many years as a professional pilot, including experience as a charter and airline pilot. Recently, he has been a leader in guiding young aviators in higher education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.