Traditionally, regional commercial air carriers have been the first stop for new career pilots. However, because of the current pilot shortage, this has changed over the past year. There are now fewer regional airline pilot applicants and attrition rates have increased. In response, these carriers are recruiting flight instructors to staff their cockpits.
This is expected to continue for a number of years, because the projected need is for 120,000 new pilots in the next 10 years. There has never been a better time to become a pilot.
And the shortage extends beyond just regional airlines. Growth outside the US, especially from Asian airlines, is placing even more pressure on the pool of licenses pilots. According to Altean’s VP Marketing, Marsha Bell, if the world fleet doubles as expected over the next 20 years, the population of pilots will have to double also. Alteon is the training division of Boeing.
Pinnacle Airlines, a US regional carrier, experienced an attrition rate of 25% earlier this year, which means 10-20 pilots were leaving each month, for positions as pilots with other aviation companies. The result of this shortage of pilots was that Pinnacle had to reduce its flying schedule, which necessitated a $1.3 million payment to Northwest Airlines, with whom Pinnacle has a flying agreement. Pinnacle says hiring has sinced stabilized.
Republic Airlines is offering a $2,500 hiring bonus for pilots with a minimum of 1,000 hours, who are qualified on ERJ-145 or CRJ200 aircraft.
Piedmont Airlines has had similar hiring experiences. Their attrition rate is higher than past years, and they are therefore recruiting more aggressively. Piedmont says they are now hiring 25 new pilots each month.
SkyWest Airlines, as well as subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines, currently has a 10% attrition rate. The carrier indicated they needed 700 pilots this year; they have already hired 400. Some regionals that formerly required pilots with 1,500 or more hours are now recruiting candidates with as little as 250 hours.
More opportunity for regional pilots is being created by US mainline carriers, such as American Airlines and United Airlines, as they growth stronger and need more pilots. And at the same time, the US regional airlines themselves are experiencing exceptionally strong growth. Between 2000 and 2006, they grrew at an average annual rate of nearly 16%, according to the FAA. The regional fleet overall also added over 500 aircraft in total to their fleets.
In the final analysis, jobs are abundant for new career pilots. If you are considering a career as an airline pilot, there has never been a better time to start your training than now. Contact an Admissions Officer at Phoenix East Aviation about a pilot training programs. Just think, in less time then it takes to complete community college, you could be wearing the uniform of a commercial airline pilot!