During the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, U.S. airlines hired just 30 pilots, a record industry low. This year, they are on track to hire nearly 4,000, the most in the past 15 years. In fact, pilot hiring in 2016 “will set a new record,” according to Nevada-based FAPA.aero in its latest study.
Louis Smith, president of FAPA.aero, a retired airline captain who has been watching the industry for 43 years, said “The nine U.S. major airlines collectively hired more than 26,000 pilots in the last 15 years. That number will double during the next 15 years.”
Smith says the record hiring is being triggered by industry growth and the attrition of senior captains who have reached the mandatory age 65-retirement point in their careers.
Pilot staffing at regional airlines, where carriers are already grounding aircraft due to a shortage of crews, “is only the beginning,” according to Smith.
Other sectors are also affected by the major airlines’ pilot demand, he noted.
“Even corporate flight departments, traditionally a stronghold of job security, as well as the U.S. military are losing experienced aviators due to the lure of major airline pilot jobs,” Smith said.
He warned that while pilot shortages may appear small today, the strength of the shortage’s vacuum will begin increasing by mid-2016.
FAPA is creating an industry job fair and a half-day educational seminar focusing on two different pilot sectors, those who are seeking their next cockpit opportunity and high school and other students, as well as their families, who may just now be considering a pilot career.
FAPA.aero’s Focus on the Future conference for aspiring pilots begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 at the Double Tree Orlando Airport. Focus on the Future will provide students and parents with information about pilot demand, compensation and the cost of pilot training and education.
That same day, FAPA will also hold an industry job fair beginning at 9 a.m. at the Double Tree Orlando Airport for pilots seeking their next professional opportunity. At press time, 13 airlines have committed to attend the job fair.