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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pilot Shortage?

AlanCarr, an avid aviation aficionado, learning about the aspects of the flying world from the business to the technical, frequently writes on what he finds. He currently works with to provide resources on aircraft related information and sent me a great article to post about the pilot shortage. 

Shortage Ahead? 
The Job Outlook for Commercial Airline Pilots 
We’ve all read the sensational headlines about the looming “pilot shortage.” The FAA mandates that pilots retire by the age of 65 and a verifiable fleet of pilots are nearing that age. Coupled with new rules about co-pilot flight hours, these statistics have led to speculation that not enough kids dream about becoming a commercial pilot anymore—at least not enough to fill that gaps that will likely be created at regional airlines that don’t pay nearly as well as larger carriers. Still, it doesn’t take much research to prove that the mainstream media favors hyperbole that feeds both conversation and fears. How can we know if the pilot shortage is real? What is the job outlook for commercial airline pilots?

If we listen to the 2013 Boeing and Technician Outlook, there will be a great demand for commercial pilots worldwide over the next 20 years. In addition to worries surrounding the rate of pilot retirement, Boeing is quick to point out that “airlines across the globe are expanding their fleets and flight schedules to meet surging aviation demand in emerging markets.” This means in addition to the pilots that airlines need to replace, airlines are adding jobs for pilots that will fly them all over the globe—especially in the Asia Pacific. They estimate that North America will require 85,700 new pilots over the next 20 years.

Nevertheless, if one is to look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they predict an 11% increase in airline and commercial pilot jobs over the next ten years , from about 103,500 pilots in 2010 to about 115,000 in 2020. With more than half of all airline pilots in their 50s, (for the sake of numerical ease, let’s just say that 69,000 pilots are set to retire over the next ten years), these calculations reveal that Boeing’s numbers may fall short: 80,500 new pilots would be needed over the next ten years alone.

How does is this reflected in current hiring patterns? 

According to USA Today, American Airlines is looking to hire 1,500 pilots over the next five years after its proposed merger with US Airways. And  United is bringing back about 600 pilots that were furloughed back in 2008. These figures obviously only represent the hiring patterns of two major airlines. Regional carriers, which cannot pay its pilots and copilots as much as major airlines, will lose talent as their pilots move on to larger carriers, and may not have access to pilots who would be willing to make as little as $19 an hourfor just about 21.5 hours of flight time in a week. 

In fact, in a study conducted by the University of North Dakota Aviation Department, 32% of their surveyed aspiring pilots are now reconsidering their career plans and 35% of those respondents said that a salary increase might convince them to continue their training. Though the sample size was not exactly statistically significant, the numbers still reveal a trend that has caused news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today to warn travelers about a crisis.

The numbers don’t discourage Capt. Chelsey Sullenberger, the pilot that made the miraculous Hudson River landing back in 2009. According to a 2012 interview with CBS, Sullenberger thinks the shortage is hype created by the airlines to scare the FAA into rescinding new rules on pilot experience.  Co-pilots are now required to have 1,500 hours of flying experience—the same as captains—instead of 250 hours (With reductions for military and Abinitio schools). New rest rules will also go into effect in 2014. If these new laws do create shortages, then it should be stated that these shortages would just be collateral consideration of the public good.
What does this all mean? 

All things considered, this might be a good time to train to become a commercial pilot. You may start out with more student debt than you know how to handle and wages roughly equal to the Starbucks barista at your local airport, but there will be jobs in your field. If the shortage turns out to be real, you may be in the position to negotiate better pay and benefits from the regional airlines that will be clamoring to hire you.   
By Alan Carr

This is the BEST time to fly!

Delta will need 600 pilots per year for the next 15 years due to pilot retirements and new aircraft. This is great news for anyone looking to fulfill the dream of flying. Yes... this is the best time to fly!

How will you afford it?  
  • Student loans.... You will be able to pay them off ten-fold. 
  • The old fashioned way... multiple jobs. 
  • Oh... and Scholarships might help too. 
Where are scholarships? 
Join me tomorrow 
and I'll tell you! 

Enjoy the journey!
XOX Karlene


  1. I'm not sold on the pilot shortage story. I'd agree with Capt Sully on this. I know loads of guys with high turboprop and jets times unemployed even now. recently I wrote in my own requirement for seaplane pilots in SE Asia and got huge number of applicants for just one job, that too GA flying, most resume's came from guys with at least 3,000 hours total time to 9,000 hrs in all high performance Aircraft. Anyway, what about that news saying in 20 years commercial aircraft will be pilotless or drone pilot like ground based pilot. Hmmm...who knows the future..but I'd encourage every one who wants to fly for a living, it's the most fun that anyone can ever have. Just for that.

    1. Thanks for your comment Capt. Anup. I think the term "shortage" is the key. Right now, today... we do not have a shortage. But, the numbers of pilots Delta will be hiring due to the mandatory retirements combined with the numbers of new planes... we'll need pilots. We're estimating 9000 pilots in the next 15 years. That's for my airline alone.
      And we won't go to drones....The boarder patrol crashing too many of them is helping that.
      I'm an advocate of never say never. But... until the plane can land with 30-40 knot winds on an autopilot, I might say...we'll see.
      It's going to be an interesting future for sure.
      Thanks for your comment!

    2. You'll be happy to know that I'm a Frequent Delta flyer and am nearly Gold now :)

      Now, when breaking down 9K pilots over 15 years, that's only 600 pilots needed a year. That's not much, my understanding is that you'd find ten times as many applicants for the same job in the same period.

      When I went to flight school and got my Commercial 28 years ago, coming on 29 years, I was told about the impending pilot shortage and also that the future was full of jobs in the Airlines. Some of my batch mates from that time are still flying regionals, one of them quite close to me even now and he has gone to the maximum of CRJ900 Captain. I don't know any other career that takes decades to get to where you want to be with pay and benefits.

      I am an aviation entrepreneur now as you know, an employment generator and my own assessment being here in Asia and some footing there, that there will be lots of pilots chasing few jobs in the foreseeable future. As for autopilot landing the plane with 30-40Kt winds, hey they can land a vehicle on Mars now with precision, evolution may happen sooner as technology leapfrogs. Remember the days we had no gps in the cockpit and just a decade and something later everyone's got them on their phones.

      So, long story short and I have rambled on long enough (apologies!) I am not convinced about the shortage now or in the foreseeable future. Anything can (and has) gone wrong in between, you and I know how cyclical this industry has been for the last several decades.

      After all this typing on the keyboard, I feel like jumping into the cockpit, start up the old engine and fly away somewhere :) That is what gets us. That feeling. That thing that gets into our blood and won't ever get out. Aviation..sigh! :D

  2. I think the shortage is looming. With almost no student starts and the military isn't cranking them out I'm not sure how we wouldn't have a shortage eventually. Great piece Karlene!


    1. Thank you Brent. I tend to agree. If we look at the present moment and the jobs. No shortage. But when we look at the future and who is coming down the chute... I can totally see this.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. Karlene,

    It is something to consider for sure. But being a pilot is not just being able to do the job. It is about being able to land a job at a Major Airline.

    I love all of the blessing I have in my life because I landed a great job. But, I am so lucky and I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone entering training as a pilot because of the hope of landing a job.

    I tell all young people when they ask about a job in aviation, they should do something else with their life. In my opinion, the only people who should even consider aviation as a career are the people who would be miserable doing anything else.

    And those people should understand the high cost and low pay that everyone will have to endure for years until they are even qualified to think about applying to a Major airline.

    1. Rob, That is so sad!!!

      For all the people who Rob has said, "be a pilot only if you'll be miserable doing anything else"... don't listen! lol

      Follow your heart. Follow your passion. If you give up trying for your dreams because you might not make it... then you give up your life because of fear.

      Don't do anything based on fear. Don't make decisions based on fear. Those never work out well.

      Rob, you have inspired me for another post. We have to keep our dreams alive. If we don't... then what's the point with any of this?

      The point is... i would have a good life doing any number of jobs. But would have always wondered and wished. And with this job I have a great life AND can do many other things.

      okay... you might have to email me all your reasons why you believe this way. Would you do that?

      Thank you so much for your comment.

    2. It IS sad, because it is true, ma'am.
      Rob has a good point. I am fortunate enough to be able to pursue this dream ONLY because of a wife who can make enough for us to live off of while I work my tail off to be paid less than a barrista. There is NO doubt that a shortage looms, but those who establish the pay rates clearly have not received this memo. Until they do, and make no mistake- they will keep from doing so for as long as is financially possible- what Rob said is truly good advice.

      There is fear, and then there is reality.
      The distinction is important.

    3. Hi Robi, Yes... fear and reality... a distinction. But by perception.

      I came from a reality that women couldn't fly. It was hard work to break in early... But I did it!

      There was a reality that a mother couldn't manage a career and raise a family. I feared that...but fought the fear .... and reality was yes I could!

      I was told I could not write a book for men, women, aviators and non aviators. I would spend years of my life for a failure. I worked through the fear and did it anyway. Guess what... success!

      Reality is I have been to 8 airlines. Not the gifted one to jump in right and make it to the top.

      Reality is about the journey. If you want to make it happen, you will. That's what weeds the captains from the rest of those who say they want it. Captains don't give up and do not operate on fear. They do what it takes for the success of the mission. If they fear... they should not get in that plane.

      Do you think I didn't work my tail off to be paid less than a paperboy? I worked multiple jobs to get my rating and all the way while putting the kids through college.

      You're right... IF you are afraid of hard work. Afraid of making your dreams come true. Afraid of doing what it takes... then yes, don't purse aviation.

      But if you want it... do it. Don't fear.

      My life as a pilot... I feel like I've won the lottery. How many people can say that about a career they have been bumped back, furloughed, laid-off, shutdown and started over so many times?

      Reality.... If you give up a dream because you are afraid of failure and hard work... then you have just defined failure.

      Here is a great post for you to read:
      It's called The Secrets To Success

      Thank you for the comment!

      Also...anything worth having is worth working for.

    4. Anytime, ma’am, and thanks for your blog !
      The realities you mentioned were clearly fallacies: women COULD fly, no matter what self-serving, chronically insecure chest thumpers said. Same same with mothers and careers. I am embarrassing myself ‘informing’ you of this to bring home the point that those obstacles were not reality, they were noise. You blasted through it, and I doubt quite seriously those crude noisemakers are still emitting much at all now. If so, few continue to listen.

      What you have said is good for those of us "who would be miserable doing anything else". Actually, it's great ! At the risk of presuming to speak to Rob's motives, methinks he was referring to those who were looking at aviation little differently than a career choice where passion is not a prerequisite. As you mentioned, you could have done any number of other things, but this is where you chose to belong because you were looking for something more than punching a clock and paying bills. For those who are ‘merely’ looking for a career choice, the reality of triple digit debt prior to snagging that $19k/yr job is not really much of a choice at all, and, as the UND study indicates, they are voting with their feet.

      It has been a race to the bottom for quite a while in the regional airline industry, and there is currently little to indicate that there will be a huge change in either quality of life or wages anytime soon. Once the impending shortage hits, there will have to be changes, but that’s not happening yet. I, too, would feel pretty cruddy suggesting a flying career to someone without letting them know what to expect. The reality of current events dictates some serious expectation management and prior planning.

      “If you give up a dream because you are afraid of failure and hard work….then you have just defined failure.”

      What is it called when you give up a dream because you can’t feed the family you have not seen in a month because you have been stuck on reserve and the flights can’t get you home and back in time for duty ? You can’t afford to start again at the bottom of another airline’s seniority list, but upgrading is years away and, all that money spent to get to this point is needing to be paid back.

    5. Robi, I hope I did not offend you with my comment, that was not the intent. Yes... women could fly. But the point was they were told they couldn't. etc. The other point was not doing it because of "fear" that was the reality.

      We all know that putting food on the table is the most important issue. And that is why most pilots who know there will be thousands of dollars of expense and years of hard work will put the family on hold, get the job and then have the family. Because it is a struggle. No doubt. Sometimes impossible to make it work. Life planning is a really good thing.

      Sometimes we do it backwards, family and then career, but then it's so much more work. In my case I did it backwards because of the small window to have a family due to age differences.

      But if you give up your dream because it's unmanageable with the family that is a life choice you have to make for the life choice you made.

      I'm not sure if any medical students, law students etc. will get married and have kids during those years of starting out and getting established.

      Side note: For all you young single pilots starting out, do not get married before the career unless your wife or husband has a job that can afford you to work for small wages and they don't mind that you're away from home many days a month.

      Robi, I wish you the best of luck in your career and whatever you decide to do with it!

  4. In Europe we have had the 1500-hr requirement for first officers, for many years. There is no shortage of pilots here. Actually, there are so many pilots, that most are not working as pilots at all. The demand will definitely be there, but I don't really believe in the shortage. There are many qualified pilots out there, and many European pilots are working in Asia and Africa right now. If they return to the European market, they will be ahead of a lot of new guys and girls, as they will have a type rating and jet time. When you finish school and want to work in Europe, the first thing the airlines require you to do, is to get a type rating. Most people can't afford that, straight out of school. But let's say you get your 737 type rating, like the airline told you. There are still no guarantees for a job with that airline. And if there were, they would require you to have time-on-type. I have seen required time on type range from 1000 hrs to more than 4000 hrs. Right out flight school, that is frankly, quite impossible.

    I think the pilot shortage is something flight schools use heavily in their marketing. To be honest, when looking at the reality, I think it's a lie. Especially here in Europe.

    Many people have unrealistic hopes when they graduate from flight school. Many think they will get an airline job right away, maybe even long haul airplanes. I think with realistic hopes, you won't get disappointed. My hopes when graduating as a commercial pilot, is that maybe, somewhere in the world, there will be a job opening that involves possibly a single engine turbo prop plane, flying cargo, mail or small charters. Building experience from the bottom towards the top is essential in this industry. You can't expect to get a job as a 777 first officer straight away. Maybe you will have to fly smaller planes to begin with, then move up to smaller jets, and eventually to bigger jets.

    1. Cecilie thank you for the Europe update. I think that might be better verbiage ... demand versus shortage. I can definitely see a demand in the US. Now our pilots are reaching that age where they have to retire. My airline is buying a lot of planes. And... I'm not sure how many pilots are out there ready to fill the holes. That will determine the shortage or not. The real issue is that pilots in Europe unable to fly in the US. I wonder if... we have a shortage, and you have a surplus, there will be waivers for you to come fly with us!

      Thank you so much for the great comment. It's going to be fun to see the growth of the industry. And the changes.

  5. Excellent article to read as a student pilot. I enjoyed reading the comments above as well, really interesting to hear different points of view.


    1. There are so many points of view for sure. Love them all. Thank you for your comment.

  6. I think there are a couple of dynamics at play here.

    The first one that makes this time different from the past is the high cost of learning to fly and general aviation now. Fuel and insurance costs have skyrocketed. This has led to less demand for GA flying, which has led to less demand for flight instructors (a typical time building activity).
    It used to be that a high school kid could save his summer job money and learn to fly - I did. Nowadays it seems you'd have to have a summer job at Goldman-Sachs on the floor of the NYSE to get away with that.
    The cost of an aviation college - like just about all colleges -has outpaced inflation by a wide margin, and the jobs that pay enough to repay loans and feed and house a small family (i.e., 1 or 2) are far from assured.
    The flying checks gig that I built a lot of time (and great experience) with is gone (gone digital). A lot of jobs flying parts for auto companies vanished along with the prosperity of Detroit. It's tough to get a job ferrying new airplanes, when there are no new (GA) airplanes being built. The Mom and Pop regional airlines (used to be called commuter airlines): GONE!

    So, that limits the domestic supply of pilots - somewhat, and tends to support the pilot shortage theory.

    I think regional airline pay will remain low as long as there are pilots who feel that they must do that to reach the dream jobs (i.e., majors). As far as the 1500 hour rule goes, how many pilots were hired by airlines with fewer than 1500 hours anyway? We all know pilots who would do it for free - at least for a while. Look at all the pilots that signed ridiculous "training contracts" over the years. Pilots see "jet time" with the regionals, and the regionals see "cheap labor." I don't see that dynamic changing anytime soon.

    Pilots will try to be pilots no matter how irrational their chances may be. I don't know if it's drive, or some disease we all get by looking up. When I was trying to get hired by a major in the early 80's , the prime requirement for an airline job was to have been a previous pilot for Braniff (which I wasn't). I got lucky and happened to be standing at the gate when they opened them up again.

    The counter factor is the worldwide pilot supply. It's quite common now, as pointed out by Cecilie for pilots from many countries to fly for a series of airlines over the years anywhere around the world. We don't see this in the US right now (or do we?), but I have no doubt that airline managements wouldn't hesitate to turn the tap on if given the chance to lower labor costs or to "meet demand that cannot be met with US pilots" or some such excuse.

    There is plenty of precedent for bringing in skilled foreign workers - high tech is loaded with them. They could easily wipe out any domestic pilot shortage in a snap. My own experience will show that cost trumps skill so don't think it can't happen (Admittedly, there is not always a direct correlation between the two). If ALPA keeps a strong grip on the regionals, perhaps that can be thwarted, though I'm not counting on ALPA and its current president for much.

    The military will continue to be a way that pilots can afford training (you pay with years instead of dollars). Military pilots get a deduction on the 1500 hour rule along with certain aviation college grads. They may not fly as much as they used to and therefore they may need it. They may also have to sign up for longer, but they'll usually be airline-ready when they get out. It's just a matter of luck if they can manage to get out when airlines are hiring - but that's always been the case.

    So the dynamics have changed over the years. Pilot shortage? I'll believe it when I see it.

    1. I think it's a disease!
      Thanks for the great comment Bill. I think for all the reasons you state, and those of thinking the job is not what it used to be, are reasons we won't have as many pilots entering the industry. But we continue to grow. Pilots continue to retire. I think there might be a shortage if the new pilots can't fill the empty seats. Time will tell for sure.
      But... it's a great time to start if you love to fly and want a chance for a great job.
      It is great!
      Thanks again for your comment.

  7. Wooo weeee!! You hit a nerve here Karlene.
    Very heated arguments on both sides of the issue.
    Hard to decide, because i agree with both, but reality seems to be tipping the the scale.
    Glad to hear capt. "Sully" is fighting for better wages on the regionals in Congress.
    Karlene, i told you a few weeks ago that the Colgan Air crash
    Was going to change everything, regarding hiring minimuns.
    Hopefull but discontent, Nigel.

    1. Yes... a nerve for sure. But we all have opinions and spirited debates are a good thing. Through my series of novels, my intent is to make the industry a better and create better jobs...
      Now those regionals... if the pilots did not fly for those wages, they would have to bring them up. How do we tell the pilots that? They all want that foot in the door. The FAA latched onto something that really wasn't the issue with Colgan. Unfortunately this was a reaction. So sad that all coming in have to pay the price. Thanks so much for your comment.

  8. The United States is our world-leading economic zone. Aviation moves $1 trillion dollars to its economy. Wait, we all know this, right?

    But a red light has just appeared. Actually, a long time ago, and the industry must not solely depend on the airlines to recover its strength.

    Airlines have been doing what they can to survive economic pressures. We have seen some mismanagement examples, we have also seen examples of conservative management philosophies - leading to huge internal damages, but no bankruptcies - and we have seen examples of bankruptcy that led to many consolidations which CEOs made a terrific job by bringing airline companies back to business.

    The policy remains untouched. A couple of adds here, rectify some stuff there... It is time to revise everything and fix it. More simplistic (yet complex - lol), less bureaucratic, more flexible, efficient and innovative. Easy to say, huh? I know. But changes won't happen during a year or two.

    The United States itself is passing through a tough time, which I'm sure it will recover from this stress, but for over 20 years its aviation industry has been damaged by medieval regulations. No, wait, don't attack regulations. Well, regulations and a bit more.

    We know pilot benefits have been seriously reduced. So as salaries. How such segment that moves 1$ trillion dollars to its country economy is so unfair to its main employees? Clearly U.S regulators need to do the laundry.

    Emirates came up with the idea of competing globally through the Freedoms of the Air. Serving between New York and Milan. Initially with a B777-300ER with an option of flying A380s. ALPA took it very seriously and they are not happy because the american aviation industry has no bedrock to compete globally and this was one tough impact made by an airline from the Middle East which services are so appreciated worldwide. And more, NYC-Milan is just so fashionable... And this is just one example.

    Goodbye regionals... Hello Networks and Cheapos! We are changing. I would not fly as a regional pilot if they cannot provide me a trustful benefit. Neither by compulsiveness. I know this is not applicable to all. I'm mean generally.

    Boeing's market outlook is a green light. Wait, is this traffic light only for stakeholders or it is applicable to pilots as well? I am referring to the United States. Not Asia-Pacific.

    Cecilie's comment brings up one interesting point. Education. I think me and you (Karlene) are confident about education. Student pilots are still believing in the fact pilots don't need University degrees. Other specializations are obviously great to hold. Karlene, there is a Captain making videos on youtube telling many viewers not to go to University. It is not needed, he claims. He is a B747-200 sailor. Cargo.

    ICAO and IATA are coming up with new ideas to make our skies more safer and sustainable. Things will reach a point where regulations will need to be revised and changed. Also, let's make sure the right people will be there at the right time.

    Enough drama now... The good news is economical recovery. Business is beginning to regain confidence. Over the next years, new pilots will be contracted. Things will get better. But I believe a new policy must be created, because the american aviation industry has a huge potential and the country is just not using it at full speed.

    Main problems are not being caused by airlines, but how inflexible and confident the policy is.

    Wait... Who am I to criticize? Okay, time to stop writing a big text full of unnecessary things and go to the doctor for my lungs x-ray for my pilot medical. What a contradiction!


    1. Alex, I had to make sure I was well rested before I read this. This is an outstanding comment. And should be an article all on its own. May I have permission to share it? Your thoughts are provoking and your writing exceptional! Thank you for the great comment.

    2. Oh my... I didn't know it was that good! lol

      Yes you may share it. Just have in mind this is not a perfect premise, but it is in good conditions to be posted somewhere else and shared.

      Not "perfect" because it's unfinished. I want to wait my blog to come up and write a better version, but you are free to do what you want.

      And if it's provocative, then it's supposed to be a good thing.


    3. Thank you! Yes...this is excellent writing.
      XOX Karlene

  9. Dear Karlene,

    Oh how I wish this article was true however as always it's simply smoke and mirrors. If people simply look at the figures they they will soon realize.

    Over the last 8 years 36000 ATP's have been issued by the FAA, that equates to 4500/year. The Boeing forecast in this article says 85700 over 20 years which equates to 4285. I may not be a math genious but even I know that 4500 goes into 4285 with some left over!

    There are captains at regionals with 10,000+ hours. There are plenty of FO's at regionals ready for the swap seat and there are plenty of guys below them ready to step up. There simply is not a shortage of any kind.

    The worst that is going to happen is in fact the experience levels in the regionals and such will slightly reduce, not great but hardly a catastrophy.

    As for the news from AA, well they have only just got rid of a little over 8% of their workforce in recent times so will simply hire those guys back again. Again distorting the real truth.

    1. Stephen, Thank you for sharing this information. Those 10,000 hour pilots at the regionals, the few I know are happy in the left seat and do not want to rip that 4th stripe off their shoulder to start over. So...they won't be going anywhere.

      The data of all those ATPS over the last 8 years. I would love to see the charts on that. What is it compared to 8 years ago... to 4years... to last year? Has there been a decline, or is it going up?

      Also... if you look at the birth rates in the US... thousands of babies are being born, but that doesn't make those women popping them out can be qualified as good mothers. I'm wondering out of all those ATPs... how many of those individuals would be considered a qualified candidate. There are many people with an ATP and "qualified" to fly...but do we want them? I think there is a 10% factor going on here.

      I also don't have enough knowledge on all that, but one of the things I will study while in school. I'll do some research and can back this up. Hopefully. Or I will write the clear and dirty truth.

      What I do know is the President of Horizon Airlines is spending a great deal of time at the Aviation Universities, checking levels and incoming students and he is nervous that we will have a shortage.

      And shortage or not... I'm still not sure if this is the reason to choose a profession. You have to have an aptitude and love it. I wouldn't say... they're going to have a shortage of trash collectors so I'm going that route! Not that I love the job...just there is a shortage and the competition will be so low I can get in. lol

      As for AA... if the merger goes through, I suspect they will furlough all those they hired. There are too many overlaps in the system. Unless of course they have a high level of approaching 65ers on the property.

      The real question is... Look at the orders of Boeing and Airbus planes. Figure 6 crews per plane, which is low. And then look at the numbers of mandatory retirements over the next ten years. And how many really want a job in the industry. And then do that math. What I do know is numbers can be skewed. So... we'll unskew then in a year. I promise!!!
      Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate the feedback. And... if you want to email me the links and sources for your data... that would be awesome too! Thank you!!!

  10. After thinking about it, the problem is not pilot shortage, or even the airlines. It's the PASSENGERS!
    After all, is passengers who buy the tickets
    And the bottom line is those tickets are what eventually pays
    The pilots sallaries.
    So until the public decides not to fly on the cheap, things will remain the same. It's up to the airlines to be competitive, keeping those seats cheap, making a profit, and paying the labor (mechs, pilots, attendnts) the lowest they can afford.
    During regulation those seats were pricey and there was plenty of money to go around payroll. I know some senior captains that became millionaires.
    But we are all flying cheap now, maybe cheaper tomorrow.
    It's up to the paying public or a "steve jobs" that will change the industry. IT MIGHT EVEN BE YOU!
    Thanks for hearing me out.

    1. Nigel, this is so true. I recently had a talk with a group of non-aviation women...they were passengers. I asked them when they shop, how do they decide to travel. "The cheapest!" So there you have it.
      Thank you for the great comment!

  11. johnblyon@hotmail.comOctober 26, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Shortage or over supply; in how many other occupations? How many architecture graduates are working directly as architects 5 years after graduating? They may be in a 'related' field, but not directly as architects. This is the story in many professions. So, aim high & keep climbing. I remember being told as a kid that it's (life) about "persistence & perseverance"

    1. John, you were told right! And I was thinking about this exact thing today. Watch for an update to this post on Wednesday. Thank you so much for your comment!

  12. No offense taken at all, ma'am. I am making sure that the view 'from the bottom' is being represent as best I can accurately depict it ;) Sorry so late in getting back to this thread, actually preparing for an interview tomorrow, so I'll try n' be brief.

    There's no doubt that if it weren't for my wife's income I'd not be able to chase this dream. Powerful stuff, this dream; other pilot candidates for the airline I'm hoping to be hired by are discussing 40-60k/year wage cuts just to 'escape the desk' and to fly.

    There seems to be more than a couple of folks who 'harumph' this whole shortage 'nonsense'.

    Reality, again, intrudes.....

    United is 55 captain vacancies and 235 first officer vacancies short for classes that have to run in December in order to fill demand for March, per 'RUMINT'. Just today JetBlue's CEO publicly stated they are having pilot retention problems. LOTS of folks at regionals looking to fill those slots and plenty of others.

    Oh, and this:

    But that's all echelons above my reality, which currently is that of having been offered interviews at five airlines (three 'majors' and two regionals) since leaving active-duty....

    .....less than two weeks ago.

    I do NOT have goob gobbles of hours, nor am I anywhere near being Yeager or Sully.

    Rant- disabled, ma'am.
    Back to the books..........

  13. Interviews at five airlines? And a year ago nobody was hiring? Sounds like things are going in a positive direction! Might be a pilot shortage pending. For every pilot that leave Jet Blue, there is a vacancy. Best of luck to you in your job search. Kudos to your wife for supporting you. But marriage is a team effort. It goes both ways. You'll be there for her one day. Keep me posted on which job you take. Good luck.

  14. From my point of view, I tend to agree with Karlene. I just got my commercial certificate. My flight school hired me 30 mins after my check-ride - to do demonstration flights and they are helping me obtain the CFI. Why? All the CFI's left for the regionals and some first officers at the regionals were promoted (so I am told) to become captains and some captains went to the majors etc.

    I think that the plane orders vs the pilots required correlates. You do need X amount of crew per plane right? American is hiring, and Delta will be soon. Lets see what happens.

    1. Congratulations Nee! The CFI is the first step to your dream. You're going to do great. Yes... let's see what happens. But you'll make it!

  15. Hello Pilots,

    My name is Salim, I’m a multi-media journalist based in NYC doing a story about this very topic and I’m looking for voices from pilots who are saying exactly what you are in this forum. Check out the ‘story’ and ‘forum’ sections at this link and please reach out to me at to chat some more and contribute your thoughts. This is meant to be a news story that voices the unheard side of the ‘pilot shortage’ issue which surprisingly is – the pilots. So please speak up, you can contribute in any capacity whether info anonymously or being in the story yourself.

    Karlene, very informative and original post/analysis.. the questions you ask hit the nail on the head. I would like to talk to you as well for this story if willing. Will be sending you an email shortly.

    Specifically would like to here from Rob Akers and Robi.


    1. Salim, Thank you very much! Will look forward to your email.

  16. Thank you for providing the information regarding airline pilot career.

    1. You're welcome William. If you would like to be a guest blogger to link to yours, email me.

  17. As mentioned higher, misleading wording. There will be no shortage, there will only be a strong local demand. But as the global supply of pilots is way higher than demand, no chance of major pay increase.

    When the demand gets a bit too high for the local supply, we will see here what happened in other places that faced similar situations in the past (Europe, Asia) : regulatory changes in order to obtain eligible pilots at the lowest possible cost.

    One of the ways : having a program that for many years will tie low-paid pilots to a company that fast-tracks them through training to sit them on the right seat of a jet next to an experienced pilot. This "cadet" system used to be common in Europe, it seems to become standard in Asia. Europe being flooded with pilots these days, no such program anymore, companies have pilots come to them with their type rating and accept less than $2k monthly.

    Another way : immigration rules change : airlines pressure government into allowing eligible pilots to get work permits, which brings in pilots from abroad who were used to even lower wages. Air Transat and Sunwings in Canada have been guilty of doing so, and apparently it's becoming more and more common here.

    Bottom line : aviation is a job of passion, so long as many people in the world put their passion ahead of income and quality of life, there will be no pilot shortage and no substantial pay increase (expect for niche flying/special skills). Nothing can be done about the job market becoming more global.

    1. Your bottom line is it! A passion. But to have your career be your passion... how awesome is that! There are people out there working on the rest of it...and I have confidence we'll get the rates up. Rested...that's another subject. Thank you so much for the great comment!

  18. My two cents. There is no pilot shortage at the legacies today, but there is a huge pilot shortage at the regionals - they can't even fill their classes.

    Over time that will translate to the legacy level as well. At United we are retireing 6000 pilots over the next 12 to 15 years, half our pilot force. That's just retirements, no growth included. There are similar numbers at American.

    As a former union pilot representative, I was very involved in the merger contract for the new United pilots. We negotiated an industry leading scope section like Delta that creates 90/100 seat jet flying on our property.

    Like Delta we are parking 50 seat regionals and adding larger 76 seat airplanes at our regionals and we are looking to grow our 90/100 seat flying at mainline due to our pilot contract requirements.

    Now with the ATP requirement for new hire pilots at the regionals in addition to very onerous & expensive new requirements to obtain your ATP. Something has to give as the regionals will not be able to crew airplanes in the coming years.

    I predict legacies taking their jet flying back over the next decade and pilots will now be hired at the big airlines amd be assigned First Officer on a 76 seat or 90/100 seat jet and move up within the legacy airline as seniority dictates.

    Jayson Baron
    Owner Lehigh Valley Flught & Racing Simulations
    757/767 Captain United Airlines

    1. Jayson, I like the way you think. I hope this happens. Also... since you are with United, I recently heard your hiring is a lottery. If you're experienced you're put in the hat with an equal chance of getting your number drawn. Is that true?
      On a side note... I just liked your FB page. And, I'm thinking we need to make you a Friday Flyer and advertise your business for you. :) Pilots helping pilots is what it's all about. Email me!


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