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If it were in your hands to solve today’s shortage of pilots, especially those with experience, what would you propose to fill the gap? How would you alleviate the effects the pilot shortage could have on business aviation in the long run?


shortageUsing lower-time pilots as first officers would be the solution. Congress only mandates feel-good problem solving, not real world answers to current problems.

Malcolm Soare
ATP/A&P. Beechjet 400
Chief Pilot
Davidson Companies
Fort Peck MT

 

The aviation industry has known about the pilot shortage for a very long time. It seems to me that the authorities have refused to address it. I was told by a reputable industry recruiter that I was not marketable at age 60, but I’m still flying and have added 2 new ratings this year!

Jeffrey Daum
ATP. Citation XLS & Falcon 2000
Captain
ProAv Charters
Orlando FL

 

Salaries are all right for experienced pilots at the moment. However, I believe training could be facilitated, and even subsidized. At the same time, working conditions in the entry-level jobs have to be fixed, especially in small commuter airlines.

Fabio Moritz
ATP. Gulfstream G550 & Legacy 600
Chief Pilot
Denali
Campos do Jordão SP, Brazil

 

As a foreign non-US pilot, I can say that the aviation industry has to be blamed directly for the pilot shortage in the US. An industry that used to set parameters and salaries based solely on their individual needs, is now forced to pay what they’re not used to in order to attract or maintain their pilots and crews. Other countries in the world have fulfilled their needs with expat pilots and crew members – something the US is not willing to do but is complaining about. Sir Richard Branson has some great quotes regarding this, such as “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to,” and “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.”

Jorge Lara
ATP. Falcon 7X
Flight Ops Dir
Corbantrade
Quito, Ecuador

 

There is no magic bullet. Many factors have combined over time to get us to this point. The market will correct itself, as it always does. Advances in autonomous flight will eventually have a large effect, but a global financial collapse would also change the dynamics.

Greg Woods
ATP. Gulfstream G650ER
Senior Director
Qualcomm
Carlsbad CA

 

Enhancing pilots’ quality of life – not just salaries – would help alleviate the pilot shortage. Pilots would really appreciate being able to get more time off for family events and holidays. I also believe that the industry needs to do better at advertising the benefits and satisfaction that an aviation career can provide. Long ago, when I was young, this seemed evident, but, over that time, the perception has waned considerably.

Michael O’Brien
ATP/CFII. Leonardo AW139
AW139 Captain
PHI Aviation
Pensacola FL

 

Making training less expensive, like the military does, would help reduce today’s pilot shortage.

Scott Johnson
ATP. Boeing 767/757
Captain
UPS
Crestwood KY

 

There should be US legislation written in conjunction with that of Europe. This would allow pilots to continue flying until they’re 70 in Part 121, and as long as they can hold a medical in Part 91 and 135. This could prove troublesome to many, including unions, but we are living longer with modern medicine. I’ve heard lots of whining about people staying on, mostly from underlings who want a promotion to another seat. But if I’m able-bodied and sound of mind, why not? And I suggest working with other governing bodies because they seem to be the ones restricting us from flying to their countries.

Christopher Phillips
ATP/Helo. Citation Sovereign
PIC & Captain
Keystone Aviation
West Yarmouth MA

 

Better interviewing and focused aviation psychological testing to identify a good fit for a particular operation. Job hopping is causing productivity problems with the people that we have now, creating a shortage of well-fit pilots who are happy in their present job. For instance, a pilot takes a job in a non-aviation company that has a Part 91 flight department, even though he knows he/she is a better fit for a union pilot job with an airline. He/she can’t seem to embrace the purpose and the company philosophy, but does the aircraft training anyway. And, after a year, both parties are unhappy. Productivity and training are wasted, and the pilot hops to a different job. Later, it’s discovered the pilot’s father and sister are airline pilots.

D Brock
ATP/CFII/A&P. Citation series    
Pilot
Tunria Services
Keystone Heights FL


Airplane Manager • PC Aviators
Park City Aviators has been using Airplane Manager (AM) for more than 1 year now, and our experience has been great. Our chief pilot finds it intuitive and easy to integrate. It’s also easy to teach to other pilots. Our clients like the booking and trip sheets, and our internal team finds it has everything we need to run our business smoothly.

AM has definitely improved our fleet management experience. Before AM, we had multiple apps and programs for each piece of the larger management puzzle. With AM, we have most everything we need in one consolidated platform.

AM’s customer service is the best. No matter what the issue is, I usually have an answer within hours. And they are always willing to hop on a video call with us or our clients to help troubleshoot any issues on a moments notice.

Aaron Dobron

Director of Business Development
Park City Aviators


Offering aviation classes in high school and emphasizing military training as well as civilian training would help with the pilot shortage. Also, providing scholarships in high school and college would help motivate younger generations to choose a career as a pilot.

William Kemp
ATP/Helo/CFII. Citation CJ4
Pilot Instructor
Kemp Aviation
Birmingham AL

 

In almost every economic situation in business, when the right salary and benefits package is present, there’s very often no shortage of qualified applicants. This plays out routinely when certain airlines open their hiring windows. They do not struggle to fill those positions.

Wayne Hindman
ATP. Citation CJ3/XLS
Captain
Private Jet Center
Butler PA

 

Raising the retirement age limit, combined with a tightened medical exam, would solve this issue. There are a lot of pilots out there with excellent health and a great wealth of experience who are forced to retire.

Miguel Alisedo
ATP. Citation Sovereign+
Chief Captain
Avemex
Toluca, Mexico

 

Pilot shortage is a direct result of years of low pay and poor working conditions at many operators. Good-paying long-term jobs have always been the minority of opportunities. Companies, including airlines, need to pay up. Being a highly-skilled aviator is no easy endeavor, and we are worth it. I feel this will incentivize more people to enter the pilot pipeline.

Eric Popper
ATP. Boeing 737 & Pilatus PC-12
Captain
LJ Shaw & Company
Plainfield IL

 

I’d remove any age restriction when there are 2 pilots in the cockpit. As long as a pilot can pass his/her 1st or 2nd class AME, they should be allowed to fly.

Ross Budd
ATP. Pilatus PC-24/PC-12 & Citation I
Chief Pilot
Purple Llama
Francestown NH

 

The federal government should allot a specified amount of avgas for those who are training either Part 61 or Part 141. This will reduce the cost of training overall, so more people would get into flying who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Do the math and determine the fuel burned for the students to go from private pilots to ATPs, and then issue a very restrictive EBT card with lots of provisions.

Tim Riley
ATP/CFII. Pilatus PC-12
Captain
Bay of Dreams Leasing
San Diego CA

 

There are many military pilots retiring between 25 and 30 years of service. They’re not attracted to the airlines since they’ll never reach the captain seat just based on the age limit of 65 and union line number. Business aviation (bizav) needs to invest in these seasoned aviators with pay and benefits commensurate with those of the airlines. These highly-experienced pilots would enhance bizav. Their mentorship would improve the professionalism and skills of inexperienced aviators. This pipeline could be formalized and managed at national level. Unlike airlines, bizav is not hampered by unions. Grabbing these uniquely-qualified pilots from all types of military airframes would not just solve the short-term problem, but would also make a huge impact on the long-term acquisition and retention of highly-experienced pilots.

Patrick “PT” Taylor
ATP. Citation CJ3
Senior Captain
Southwest Gas
Las Vegas NV

 

Providing better salaries and schedules, and reducing the amount of HR-type management, would help fix the pilot shortage we are experiencing these days.

James McGregor
ATP/Helo. Pilatus PC-12 & Bell 407
Pilot
Life Net of New York
Madrid NY

 

Mainly, start hiring pilots with less experience in the first place, with lower total flight time, so they could get a longer career and build higher flight times. This is a must-do, since most companies start hiring with 1500 hrs or more these days, and won’t give pilots the chance to gain more experience before they go to long-haul fleets.

Augusto Grilo
ATP. Falcon 900, Citation XL/XLS and Gulfstream V/G550
Captain
NetJets
Lisbon, Portugal

 

Airlines will finally need to bear the financial load and risk of flight training instead of leaving it to the military or to individuals going severely in debt. The current “token” program aimed at promoting aviation careers will need to become the new normal as a pipeline of new professionally-trained pilots.

Manan Houston
ATP. Challenger 300
Sr Captain & Safety Program Mgr
CommScope
Hickory NC

 

Do not raise the mandatory retirement age! Companies need to attract newbies by making the job lucrative while offering improved quality of life away from the job, with guarantees and penalties if the company lies, cheats, or reneges. Also, companies would need to offer some type of training sponsorship.

N Kellman
ATP/Helo/A&P. Airbus A340-500, Lineage 1000 & Bell 429
Consultant & Pilot
Al Fatooh Trading
Bothell WA

 

First, mandatory retirements for Part 121 should be based on medical conditions, not on age. This would reduce the airlines’ need and therefore, increase business aviation availability. EASA needs to do the same to allow Part 135 operations in Europe at age 65 and above.

Steve Higgins
ATP/CFII. Gulfstream GVII
Chief Pilot
Clay Lacy Aviation
Los Angeles CA

 

Roads leading to every certificate level are complex, slow, and expensive. With high-quality sims, it should be possible to substitute simulation for a portion of the required academics and flight hours. Moreover, simulation should start early, at the level of high school education to have pilot candidates ready to enter the cockpit sooner.

Harold Watson
ATP/CFII. Cessna 421
President
BJ Aerospace
Denton TX

 

Extend the FAA-mandated retirement age by 5 years, and eliminate the CTP requirement for military pilots. I’d also continue to expand grass roots education processes in high schools. Finally, incentivize rusty pilots to rejoin the aviation industry. These measures would help solve today’s pilot shortage.

Warren Stump
Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo. King Air 350
Airspace Mgr
Leidos
Manassas VA

 

Training centers should offer retiring pilots automatic interviews. I believe that retired airline pilots don’t perform well in a bizav setting. They would be of more value using their experience to train pilots for new ratings.

D Johnson
ATP. Citation Sovereign
Transportation Specialist
Cedar MN

 

Too many aspirant pilots quit – some after their first solo – and they never get to earn a private pilot certificate. In my opinion, we also need better instructors and more mentors to preserve the pilot career.

Carlo Cesa
ATP. King Air B350
Captain
SpecAv
Nyon, Switzerland

 

Allowing part-time schedules after accumulating 100-plus hours in type, or a similar program, would help solve the pilot shortage problem. Personally, after more than 20 years in the airlines, I’d go back to commercial or business aviation if there were such a plan, and I wouldn’t miss the reserve assignments.

Bob Thompson
ATP. Boeing 747/767/757/737, Douglas DC-9, Embraer 190/170 & Embraer Legacy 500
Simulator Instructor
FlightSafety Intl
St Louis MO

 

It’s time to treat employees well. Only in this way will they stay loyal and motivated. You need to grow a company and stay competitive, especially since we live in a highly competitive world. Look at the US, where companies attract pilots through a change of mindset reflecting the fact that it’s more costly to lose flights than to pay pilots well. Also, aviation authorities should embrace new technologies in training, like virtual reality. It’s too expensive to train in a Level D sim. Normal pilots can’t afford $40K to $120K any more for bizjet recurrent training, especially after Covid-19 and the recession that hit us all so hard. EASA could apply the same recurrent rule as FAA, and this would be a start. AOC operations are much more expensive than private operations. I believe once-a-year sim recurrent training is enough.

Thomas Irbinger
ATP. Global Express
Captain
Jet Aviation
Hong Kong, China

 

Give women and minorities just an equal shot at a position. About 20 years ago, as a 4000-hr ATP in GA – 800 of of them in multi-engine aircraft – I couldn’t get a foot in the door at any small charter company. I then won a scholarship and earned a Citation type rating, but still no chance. Receptionists of a charter company confessed that the CEO wouldn’t hire a female pilot. They had a position advertised for a few months, and I had my application in early on, but had no response, even though I was not only qualified but had twice the experience they were looking for. I was also living only 10 minutes away. I ended up flying for a regional for 8 years as captain, PIC, multi-engine TPs, with no accidents/incidents, plus awards and commendations on my records. And still I couldn’t get the time of day from the kinds of companies I really wanted to fly for.

Kathy Felker
ATP/CFII. de Havilland DHC-8-Q400 & Beech 99
Flight Instructor & Captain
Flying Club
Oceanside CA

 

I’d support GA to ease regulations and lower training costs by direct financial support and tax incentives to develop a new generation of pilots. Also, I’d immediately roll back the hiring criteria for commercial airline SIC pilots to comm-multi-inst ratings and 500 hours. With more trained pilots in the pool, corporations would be able to offer incentives to attract those pilots who have the skill set for the corporate environment away from the routine slog of airline operations.

Wes Gustafson
ATP/Helo/CFI. Falcon 8X/7X, Airbus EC135 & Cessna 185 seaplane
Av Dept Mgr
Valkyrie Leasing
Seattle WA

 

Hope this question is answered by the younger pilot generation. Being past the prime at 70 years, I remember being the generation that wanted to fly more than getting paid to do it. I don’t see that much today. The pilot career can be fulfilling, but also frustrating. As with any other profession, the next generation needs to see all aspects of the career. Therefore, let’s start by educating and mentoring the next group of pilots, and then make it easier financially to obtain that training. The training doesn’t need to be run just by the airlines. How about the other pilots out there who are in need of flight deck crew members? Step up to the plate, NetJets, Flexjet, Walmart, and all the other huge Part 91 and 135 flight departments! Yes, the money is in the airlines, but after 36 years flying in Part 121, I can say that a well-run, family-oriented, well-paid flight department, to which I might add flight schools, could give the airlines a run for their money with good public relations and marketing.

Rodney Cahow
ATP/CFI. Beech King Air 200 & C-12 Huron
Flight Instructor & Asst Chief Part 141 Instructor
CAE
Dothan AL