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QUESTION: Hi:
   Would you happen to know the hiring forecast for regional airlines for the next few years?  I read about lots of pilots coming up for retirement starting last year due to them turning 65 years old.  Is there a current pilot shortage or will there be one soon? Thanks!

ANSWER: Ian

The forecasts I have seen project the majors losing about 18,000 pilots by 2022 due to retirement attrition and there were just under 18,000 pilots were flying for the regional carriers in 2010 according to BTS.gov. That attrition creates some good turnover for pilots looking to advance in their careers to the majors but there isn't a huge deficit in numbers at that level.

There will be a pilot shortage at the regionals, not the majors. The majors will have a huge pool of applicants from the regionals to draw from and when those pilots get hired, filling their positions will be the challenge. Especially after the 1,500 flight hour/airline transport pilot certification requirement to be hired was passed. Now even pilots with DUIs or other issues on their background checks are getting second chances as the pool of eligible applicants is starting to get smaller and smaller. Fewer military pilots coming to the airlines than ever before is also a factor.

Here is a collection of sources for the retirements and hiring numbers needs to replace them:

http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/commercial/aviationservices/flight-services/tra

https://atpflightschool.com/airlines/pilot-hiring-outlook.html

http://www.transportation.northwestern.edu/docs/2013/2013.5.21.Harrison_Presenta


Subscription based sites-
http://www.audriesaircraftanalysis.com/airline-pilot-demand/
http://www.audriesaircraftanalysis.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/PilotHiringDem

http://fapa.aero/pilot_resources_job_market.asp

Hope this helps,
D.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi:

    Thanks for the reply!  I was finally able to go through the info you send me and came up with a few more questions.  

        - Has there been a substantial decline in flight school enrollment or people dropping out of flight schools through out the country due to the strict 1500 hour/atp rule?  In another words, has the new law discouraged prospective students from enrolling/completing pilot training?  The reason i am asking this is because i am trying to figure out how much competition i will have from other pilots and how much of a hiring pool there will be when/if i complete my flight training and build up my hours.

  - I read that some regional airlines are having to park planes because they can't find enough qualified pilots to fly them.   I can imagine parking multi-million dollar aircraft is very expensive for regional airlines since they probably have financed them or leased them and have to make payments on aircraft they are not using. Do you ever foresee a time in the near future when regional airlines actually hire pilots with less then 1500 hours and pay for their time building in training aircraft in order for them to be able to fly their regional aircraft?  It might be cheaper for them to hire pilots with less then 1500 hours and pay for them to build time instead of their jets being parked.  What is your expert opinion on this?

         - Do you foresee the 1500 hour rule/atp requirement ever been repealed in the near future due to the regional airline pilot shortage?

Thanks again!  Look forward to your answer!

Answer
- Has there been a substantial decline in flight school enrollment or people dropping out of flight schools through out the country due to the strict 1500 hour/atp rule?  In another words, has the new law discouraged prospective students from enrolling/completing pilot training?  

The FAA Administrator publishes airman statistics annually.
https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation_data_statistics/civil_airmen_statistics/

These are the numbers of total pilots and student pilot certificates for that year:
2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   2006   2005   2004
         
599,086   610,576   617,128   627,588   594,285   613,746   590,349   597,109   609,737   618,633
120,285   119,946   118,657   119,119   72,280   80,989   84,339   84,866   87,213   87,910

Although student starts are actually up, the total numbers of active pilots has dropped. In the 1990's it was well over 700,000 active airmen (with a current medical). Over the past several years other factors besides the ATP requirement, like record high prices for AvGas and the decreased availability of aviation loans, have likely impacted those figures too.

You may find this NAFI commentary of interest- http://www.nafinet.org/whitepaper.aspx


- The reason i am asking this is because i am trying to figure out how much competition i will have from other pilots and how much of a hiring pool there will be when/if i complete my flight training and build up my hours.

How much of a hiring pool might you be in competition against?
If you are ready to be hired in 2-3 years, then I wouldn't fret about it too much. Look at the major retirement numbers in my last response. The regionals will be bleeding pilots. Some cannot get enough now. While classes are full at many regionals recruiting now, the new hires are often less qualified overall (checkride failures, DUI, other record blemishes) than what the airline previously hired even though they have an ATP.

- I read that some regional airlines are having to park planes because they can't find enough qualified pilots to fly them. I can imagine parking multi-million dollar aircraft is very expensive for regional airlines since they probably have financed them or leased them and have to make payments on aircraft they are not using. Do you ever foresee a time in the near future when regional airlines actually hire pilots with less then 1500 hours and pay for their time building in training aircraft in order for them to be able to fly their regional aircraft?  It might be cheaper for them to hire pilots with less then 1500 hours and pay for them to build time instead of their jets being parked.  What is your expert opinion on this?

It is happening already:
https://www.envoyair.com/home/careers/job-preview/university-partnerships/
https://www.envoyair.com/home/careers/job-preview/pipeline-instructor-pilots/

"The first step in your career path is to become an Envoy Pipeline Instructor with one of our many partner universities and flight schools to build time towards the ATP minimum flight experience requirements.  Pipeline Instructors are hired and employed by Envoy while they are still instructing, allowing them to enjoy all the employee benefits Envoy has to offer!"

Once you obtain 50 hours multi-engine experience and reach ATP minimums you are placed in their next available new-hire class.

http://www.flypinnacle.com/site/our_company/career_center/careers_bridge_program


- Do you foresee the 1500 hour rule/atp requirement ever been repealed in the near future due to the regional airline pilot shortage?

Certain members of the Regional Airline Association are trying to push a cause for revocation, but it is too soon after the Colgan crash for anyone in Congress to even consider any merit of it. Unfortunately, total time isn't going to be the answer but a better training program. That and increased pay. There is always a chance it could be repealed but I wouldn't be on it, definitely not in the near future. Not until the airlines in the USA are forced to train their pilots like they do abroad due to insufficient qualified applicants. Lufthansa, British Airway, Air France, Korean, Singapore ect utilize cadet programs for new hires. Zero time to first officer in a large Boeing or Airbus jet with very little time. (Look at the FO on the Germanwings crash in the Alps. He had only 630 hours total time and had been flying for the airline a year and a half!)

Hope this helps. Good luck!
D.

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D. Norkus

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I can address questions about airline pilot employment & entry level airline careers in the United States, women pilots, flight training, pilot certification, U.S. flight scholarships (mostly for women), aviation & airline safety topics, aviation accident investigation and airline operations. ***Please note, I cannot address flight training & career queries from outside the United States, or aero engineering degree programs/careers, aviation management topics. ****

Experience

Airline captain with 15 years past experience in airline ground operations. I have previously flown as a commercial skydive pilot & ferry pilot and majored in Aviation Science


Organizations
International Organization of Women Pilots- The Ninety-Nines, charter member of Women In Aviation International, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, Air Line Pilots Association.

Education/Credentials
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; Aviation Safety/Accident investigation

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