Following a briefing from Mark, he called for questions. “What’s your opinion of the pilot shortage we’re starting to hear so much about?” asked a fellow attendee.
Mark’s answer has stuck with me since. He felt there wasn’t a pilot shortage. There are hundreds of thousands of pilots in the United State and around the world.
“What we are seeing is a limited supply of pilots willing to work for the amount the airlines want to pay. Once the airlines pay what the pilots feel they are worth, plenty of pilots will show up.”
While General Aviation News doesn’t cover the airline industry directly, I try to pay attention to what is happening. A healthy flight training industry is good for the aviation industry, period.
And Mark’s words popped into my head as I read an email from Glendale, Arizona-based Arizona Flight Training Center announcing a “pilot pipeline agreement” with GoJet Airlines. The announcement states:
The Wingman Pipeline Program provides promising pilots (I rather like the alliteration) currently enrolled in a professional airline training program an internship at GoJet while they build flight hours. Program participants become GoJet First Officers upon completion of ATP minimums.
Participating students are mentored by GoJet pilots throughout the duration of their internships. Additionally, the program prepares student pilots for the GoJet First Officer training program by providing course materials months in advance.
“We want our pilots to come to GoJet and do well,” stressed Brad Sargent, GoJet’s Chief Pilot. “That’s why we start preparing them for success well before their first day of class.”
Show me the money…
In addition to $10,000 in tuition reimbursement, participating students can earn $2,500 for each successful pilot they refer to GoJet during their time as an intern (funds are banked until the students become official GoJet pilots). Other benefits include limited flight benefits and jump seat privileges.
GoJet first officers earn $36.96 per flight hour with 75 hours guaranteed.
That’s $33,264 per year. And that doesn’t include the $12,000 first officer signing bonus or the unlimited $2,500 pilot referral bonus.
While that won’t put any pilot on easy street, the pay scale is still rising.
Additionally, GoJet will provide up to $12,000 in rotor-transition training to military and civilian helicopter pilots seeking commercial pilot qualifications.
GoJet Airlines operates as United Express and Delta Connection flying the Bombardier CRJ700 and CRJ900. It has a total fleet size of 47 CRJ700s and 7 CRJ900s.
There are huge numbers of pilots scheduled to retire over the next five to 10 years.
When I think of today’s college and high school students, I admit I’m a tad envious. They were smart enough to be born at just the right time. All they have to do is head out to the airport and earn those wings.
There’s a good career waiting for them on the other end, if they are willing to work for it.