23 year old Amanda Larson is sitting in the proverbial catbird seat, which happens to be in a cockpit. She’s been flying for more than 4 years and is currently being recruited by three regional airlines.
Larson says, “They know it is competitive and they know they have to offer the best to get the pilots cause we will just go somewhere else with better pay and flying the same thing.”
Amanda is in demand because of a looming pilot shortage, partially because so many will soon hit the mandatory retirement age of 65, while their airlines continue adding flights.
The demand for airline pilots is not just a problem in the U.S. It is worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. The number of people flying commercially has soared to well over three billion annually, so universities that train pilots find themselves educating more and more students from overseas, most notably from China.
Rex Ginder is a Site Manager at UND Aerospace Foundation and adds, “The major airlines will contract with companies like ourselves, send their cadets to the United States to train from anywhere from 12-18 months.”
In recent months, some foreign airlines like Emirates have cut flights due to a shortage of pilots. While that hasn’t been a problem for big U.S. carriers, regional operator Great Lakes recently suspended operations, blaming a shortage of pilots. That’s a situation analysts fear we will see again.
“What we are going to see air service that might have been viable 10 years ago won’t be viable in the future,” says Michael Boyd from Boyd Consulting.
For now, pilot recruits like Amanda Larson are landing the jobs they want with the perks to match.
U.S. regional airlines are also struggling because of the stiffer regulations introduced by the FAA. Pilots are now required to complete up to 1,500 total flight hours to become a professional pilot.