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? (Part 2)
For corporate and fractional fields, I’d make sure there was no mandatory retirement age. Some very experienced pilots hit age 65 with plenty of work still left in them, and they have to retire. They could be a good source of talent in the interim. At the other end of the spectrum, ab-initio may be the way to go. Contract with a reputable flight training school to bring your candidates up to speed. Have pilots commit to stay a certain amount of years to offset some of the costs, and pay them an attractive compensation package to make them stay.
ATP. Citation Latitude
North Augusta SC
Today’s professional pilots prioritize personal and family life. The airlines, particularly the 2 major cargo carriers, offer a benefit package second to none. On the other hand, corporate flying, while offering several advantages to airline flying and schedules, still lags behind in pay and time off. To keep pilots on the payroll, the disparity between airlines and business flying has to be much reduced.
ATP. Boeing 747-400/-8
Simulator Instructor Pilot
Flower Mound TX
As a nation, we need to restart the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), just like before WWII. They saw the need for thousands of pilots for a probable upcoming war, and proactively started this program in 1938. Our proactive time has passed, but we could still produce thousands of pilots by funding the private pilot certification of qualified youngish people, and get them careers as pilots. We could continue with government loans for the rest of their ratings, similar to the GSL program for higher education. Just imagine – it would be like a general aviation renaissance. In regard to the second question, experienced pilots can’t be had, they must be made. We should have worked on this years ago. I had a college professor who predicted this pilot shortage back in 1984. As to business aviation, it could benefit from such a program. There would be no negative effect from thousands of new pilots.
ATP. Phenom 300 & King Air 350
Best Jets Intl
Saint Paul MN
I’d lower the minimum requirements from 1500 to 1000 hours, since this wouldn’t require as much turbine time. Other challenges are typing and insurance. Many of us could sure do a lot of work as SIC, but many clients want you typed even to do that, which in many cases is not realistic. Insurance seems to be the driver, but I don’t know this for a fact. I’d like to see better training within the corporate world. I see many pilots who are not developed even as an SIC. Some of them don’t get on-the-job training because the clients want only the most experienced pilots – in most cases the PIC. Based on my experience, if you develop your resources, pilots will stay with you longer. If you don’t, pilots get typed and leave shortly thereafter.
Comm-Multi-Inst. Learjet 60/35
Raising the age limit to 70 for pilots in Part 135 operations would be the 1st step, followed by decreasing the 1500-hour requirement to 1000 hours.
ATP. Global Express
Corfe Castle, England
Mandatory retirement at age 65 has to be eliminated. To balance things out, if you don’t want 2 80-year olds in cockpit, require 1 of them to be under the age of 65.
ATP/CFI. Citation CJ4
Dodge Center MN
Giving scholarships to young students would be a way to help decrease the pilot shortage.
ATP. Citation Sovereign/Excel
Check Airman & Examiner
Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil de México
Pilots would like better quality of life, in my opinion. Therefore, companies should give them fewer days away or overnights to make their positions more attractive.
ATP. Citation Latitude/Sovereign
One possible way to alleviate the pilot shortage is to take a look at the age limitations for Part 121, and international requirements for Part 135. Maybe think about timing out based on medical issues/limitation, and/or proficiency standards checks.
ATP/Helo/CFI. Challenger 350, Beechjet 400A, and CRJ900/700/200
Garvin Promotion Group
There must be some other experienced pilots like me who interrupted their flying during the pandemic and did not fly again. It’s been 3 years for me, and I would like to fly again, but most companies won’t pay for initial courses for a 57-year-old. On the other hand, I’d like to move to the US, but my ICAO license is expensive to convert to its FAA equivalent, and requires lots of paperwork. Especially in the US, where companies are in need of pilots, the license conversion process needs to be eased. I’d be happy to fly in the US with adequate earnings to support my family.
ATP. Citation Sovereign
Former Captain Pilot
In my opinion, the mandatory retirement age needs to be extended to at least 67. As long as a Class 1 medical is validated or passed, pilots should be allowed to keep flying.
ATP. King Air 300/200
Flight Ops Officer
Pacific Global One Aviation
I think it’s a combination of factors. First is work/life balance. Many operators are happy to crew aircraft with the minimum requirement, leading ultimately to high crew turnovers. Pilots need enough time at home, free from duty, so as not to be called back on the roster due to a lack of crew members. Second is appropriate compensation across the whole fleet that matches the wider industry as a whole. Third, regulations need to make it easier for crews to operate globally. Despite ICAO standards, there are too many differences among countries – not to mention issues with customs, immigration, and permits. Business aviation is a complex environment that can exacerbate a pilot’s situation in trying to satisfy his/her owner’s desire to fly somewhere.
ATP. Global Express
Evaluating quality flight hours as opposed to total hours is a good start. Single-pilot IFR time in complex aircraft is where real learning comes in for our newer and younger pilots, and should carry at least 5 times the value of SEL VFR CFIA time. Also, all pilots should be able to fly up to any level of autopilot and flight management system (FMS) engagement, and right back down to sequential bus failures and basic stick skills on needle, ball, and airspeed. For years, the regionals got by with SICs getting started with 400–500 hours. I’d rather be flying with a 700-hour pilot who actually understood basic aerodynamics and what the Air France Flight 447 crew did wrong than some intern pilot who is a whiz on computers – that is, until the computers bite him/her. It’s time to re-legislate back to simpler and lower flight times with higher standards, including heavy simulator training, with upset recovery in real airplanes (G loads required, both positive and negative).
ATP/CFII. Learjet 55/35/24
Double Jay Aircraft Services
While the pilot unions are wisely framing this situation not as a shortage of applicants, but as a shortage of compensation, benefits, and ease of entry into the industry, I do believe that demand has very nearly matched, if not overtaken, the number of qualified pilots currently eligible for work. Most people who dream of flying airplanes put off their plans primarily due to the high financial barrier to attaining professional ratings. Cost of living has increased, and young people in particular are feeling the pain. It’s a good thing that they’re leading the charge for higher wages and better work rules nationwide, and not just in aviation. However, paying out of pocket or taking huge loans with considerable interest to complete pilot ratings is not financially viable for many, especially for those who have spouses and/or dependents, or those who would love to make a career change into flying. I’d recommend introducing aviation careers to middle and high school students through engagement courses, such as a semester course of private pilot written prep, a handful of discovery flights, work in a maintenance shop, and tours of local ATC, airport, and airline facilities. This could be paired with aviation university programs and technical schools to create an endowment for scholarship or contracts to attain ratings in exchange for service for that company after completion. These types of program are not uncommon in other parts of the world, and I predict the US will follow shortly.
ATP. Citation Sovereign
We have to show our youth that becoming a pilot is within reach, and a great way to make a living. ACE Camp and similar programs serve our youth best. I’d also have them complete an online private pilot ground school with wingsreality.edu. I believe this is an affordable and excellent way to introduce kids to the real aviation world, and to motivate them to become pilots.
Comm-Multi-Inst/CFII. Bradley BA-200
Chief Academic Officer
Insurance companies should allow us to operate within Part 135 minimums instead of having very unrealistic minimums for new hires. For instance, it takes 6 months for an initial King Air course. However, there are FAA-approved check airmen in house, but that’s not good enough for the insurance company. They won’t even allow us to check them and send them to a refresher.
ATP. Learjet 31ER, King Air C90, Cessna 421C Golden Eagle & Cessna 340
Dir of Ops
Exec Air Montana
I am certainly 1 of those experienced pilots in Part 135 with ATP and 3500-plus hours, who would be interested in flying Part 91, or for an airline, and going back to full-time employment – under acceptable conditions. However, I’m 59, and there is no path forward for me to get hired because of the current 65 years of age limit for Part 121 and the European Union’s Part 135 equivalent. Also, getting up to an acceptable pay rate before 65 with current pay scales in a regional airline would be difficult. There is no way I could match my current pay in my working lifetime. If the max Part 121 age gets raised to 70, that might be a place where all parties involved could get agreement to keep experienced pilots on the rosters a little longer to get the newbies up to ATP/1500-hr level in the coming years. Another idea is to introduce flexible schedules, such as having duty schedule rotations every other week, so the oldsters would be semiretired but still active as captains or FOs.
ATP. Beechjet 400 & King Air 90
A solution to the pilot shortage would be FAA increasing the age limit for pilots with a Class 1 medical and ATP.
ATP. McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Boeing 727 & Mitsubishi MU2
Dir of MRO
Airports are so hard to access and enjoy, even for pilots with badges. I think having community events at local airports could generate more interest and make airports feel more welcoming. At the moment, airports are dead and boring. To improve this, people should be given better access for plane spotting, so families can go out and watch aircraft taking off and landing. Also, airplanes need to look cool again. Restaurants with airport views are usually a hit with the general public. Airlines need to step up and help finance flight schools, making pilot training more affordable – although the gap between school and building hours to meet ATP requirements may be the biggest hindrance of all. In addition, insurance dictates the industry, and its requirements keep increasing. Many pilots are young people with new families and huge debt, who are expected to work as flight instructors for almost no pay. Once again, they need sponsorship from the airlines to put some of the weight on the airlines and not just on the young individual.
Comm-Multi-Inst/A&P. Citation CJ1, Premier I & King Air 90