Programs to Combat an Aging Population of Pilots


The Solution for the Aging Pilot Population

If you were to read any material in the news today, with regards to airline employment opportunities, one thing that keeps popping up is the looming pilot shortage. The combination of pilots getting older and retiring, not enough new recruits joining flight schools, as well as a shortage in military retirements, is creating a potential crisis in the aviation industry in general and the airline business. In fact, some hiring managers are getting so anxious that they are even recruiting helicopter pilots working civilian and military jobs and training them to fill airline cockpits.

However, these are all quick fixes that will only work for the short term. For the long term, the aviation industry must promote and attract more and more people to enroll in traditional pilot schools and get all the necessary qualifications under their belt. According to aircraft manufacturer Boeing, by 2030 roughly 200,000 pilots will be needed by the airlines. Smelling an opportunity, several flight schools hoping to take advantage of this, have sprung up in the last 10 years or so. For those of you who are interested in flying planes for a living, there are two basic ways to accomplish your ambition. The first is to enroll in a traditional flight school that follows a curriculum and offers all the licenses. The second way would be to learn on your own time and get the licenses you need.

Traditional Slight Schools

Flight schools have been around since the dawn of aviation, but they were not the most popular method to learn the discipline. Since WW2 the two most popular ways people got qualified as pilots were either to join the military or learn to fly on their own time. The ones who learned on their own time would gain experience by doing small jobs in flying such as flight instruction or flying for small cargo operation.

However, in the last decade, joining a flight school that is affiliated with a college has become very popular. You can get your Bachelor's degree, as well as all the basic flight licenses in one go. This will position you to get a job with cargo operators and sometimes even with a regional airline. The trick is to find one that guarantees you an interview with an employer after you have completed all the courses. In fact, the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA) has begun STEM programs in some schools, to give aviation more exposure. The program seems to be working, as more and more high school students are showing an interest to learn flying before they leave the nest.

Going on Your Own

If you are already well into your twenties, or even thirties, it is not too late to go into flying. If you cannot manage to join a flight school, you can learn from a local flying club or FBO (fixed based operator). They will usually own a couple of airplanes and will have one or two flight instructors on staff. This way, you can work a full-time job and learn to fly on the side. Even if you only spend 4 to 5 hours/week flying, you could earn all the licenses needed to land a job, in a couple of years. Even though this alternative offers less daily discipline from a training perspective, with a little patience and persistence you can still achieve the necessary training and instructor support to prepare you for a successful career as a pilot.

Its Never Been Better

The bottom line is, if you are thinking about a job as a pilot, it has never been better to do so. The demand for pilots will continue to growth and the aviation industry to also continue to adapt to make it easier and easier for individuals to start get the training and start their career as a pilot.  All it will take is to do some homework on your part and decide which path you want to take to complete your education. 

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