In the US and Europe, an entire generation of airline pilots who were trained by their countries military in the 1970s are hitting retirement age, and these air forces are no longer turning out enough replacements to be a source of pilots for commercial aviation. In addition, sophisticated fleets of corporate and fractional jets are expanding very rapidly and sucking up pilots who once might have been flying for commercial airlines.
Plus, the regional airlines, which genrally hire young and less-experienced pilots, have shifted from slow propeller planes to fast and more complicated new regional jets, which require additional training time. More training means it takes somewhat longer to prepare a newly hired pilot to be a first-officer.
IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said "It’s time to ring the warning bell on pilot availability….this is an issue that will face all of us." Some experts project a shortage of 42,000 pilots world-wide by 2020. Pilot union leaders say some US carriers are usingspecial programs allowing first-officers with as few as 50 hours of cockpit time in big planes — far below the hundreds of hours usually required — because of intense demand. Check out www.pea for more information on a career as a pilot. Call us with your questions: 1-386-258-0703 (US toll free at 800-868-4359).