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July 14, 2024
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A major theme at the 2014 RAA convention was the looming pilot shortage.  Given the crucial role regional airlines play in the industry, a pilot shortage among regionals points to a coming shortage among the majors.  Given the erratic cycles of the US airline industry, one can easily understand the distinct lack of enthusiasm among young people to embark on a career in the commercial airline industry.

RAA had a great panel discussion which you can watch in three parts here.

9 thoughts on “The Pilot Shortage

  1. I don’t know if they get it. It is a paradigm shift. The internet has put out the real info on the regional lifestyle. This in addition to the low pay is the problem. Regionals are treating their pilots very disrespectfully. They continue to try to skimp everywhere they can and in turn end up spending more money by creating a disgruntled staff who just don’t care. The most common refrain at my airline is IDGAF. Canceled vacations, contract violations, poorly trained staff, no hotel on arrival, losing track of the crews on the overnights, too many managers, chief pilot goes home at 4:30, can’t get through to scheduling, maintenance, too many MELs, can’t even get paid right.

    The waste is endemic, across the board, while the mgmt. was awarded raises, they asked for concessions from the pilots. Stop doing these things and create a career path and you will attract talent. Pay by itself is not the only issue.

    On the topic of small community service, how many are within 2-3 hours of a large airport? Buses to a larger airport may be the reasonable answer. BTW, no foreign airline is hiring US pilots with 300 hours..unless as ab initio flight instructors.

  2. Interestingly, beginning at the 7:15 mark of the third video, Mr. Bedford tells us that the 1500 hour rule is causing his regional airlines to hire inferior pilots, asserting that 500 hour pilots were much easier to train and hadn’t developed bad habits, like today’s 1500 hour pilots.

    Compare that statement to the fact that during the early to mid 2000’s, when the pool of pilot applicants was plentiful, Bedford’s regional airlines posted minimum qualifications of 1000, 1200, and 1500 hours! Were you hiring inferior pilots, by choice, back when you were the CEO of Mesaba and Republic airlines, Mr. Bedford?

  3. There is no pilot shortage!!
    It doesn’t matter how often the RAA issues these press releases…the fact is that there is no pilot shortage. They just want to roll back safety regulations to save money at the expense of safety.
    The fact is simply that these airlines are so big now they simply can’t hire all their pilots as entry level employees. It’s more than just supply and demand…the supply is there and the airlines have the demand, they just don’t want to pay pilots who have experience in the cockpit…they want all their pilots to be the experience level of an intern so they can pay only intern wages.
    I say let them grow up or let them go out of business.

  4. -A pilots first 1,000 or so hours are foundational. This is where new pilots develop decision making, stick and rudder skills, and frankly make mistakes from which they learn and grow. This is not the environment to be flying around 76 or more passengers in all weather, at jet speeds, in the worlds most congested airspace.

    -As stated in a post above, when pilots were plentiful, the MINIMUM required flight times for a regional were 1,000 hours or more. This number has fallen as interest in regionals has waned, not because lower time pilots have mysteriously become better.

    -If pilots simply go straight from flight school to a regional, who comprises our flight instructor cadre? Who flies time sensitive freight/medical supplies? Who flies survey, charter, skydivers, etc.? Apparently we’re perfectly happy destroying those parts of aviation (and other American business) to continue having cheap airline tickets.

    -It is important to note that during this time of a supposed lack of pilots, it was the *regional pilots* who were told to take concessions. Some of those regional airlines were told directly, “take concessions or lose your job.” At the same time, mainline pilots got raises (deservedly). Don’t believe me? Google Envoy, Endeavor, ExpressJet, and PSA airlines.

    -Bryan Bedford is the CEO of a regional airline that is absolutely notorious for poor pilot compensation and QOL. It is no wonder his company, Republic Air Holdings, is facing the brunt of any pilot shortfalls.

    -In a reactive, not proactive move, Republic only very recently offered a new contract to their pilots once Republic could not staff their airplanes. This contract was voted down by the pilots because the contract language was concessionary, and pay raises were even close to commensurate with the current time. Note also that Republic failed to offer any contract improvements for years, though their pilot group begged for mercy. Republic is reaping what they have sown.

  5. If you look at the type of person required to be able to attain the certs, ratings and experience required to become an ATP any logical person would have to ask why would they do it. That same person can just as easily get a law degree, a medical degree, etc. and pay for that education far more easily with far less effort and won’t have to spend half their life in a cheap hotel and worrying if they will ever get the big legacy airline job that will allow them to live a normal life. For those that already have the experience and ratings necessary to qualify for a career as an ATP but chose to do something else (of which there are many) why would they leave their current reasonable career to receive $20,000 a year and be at the bottom of seniority list flying the worst schedules and being treated like a cost to be minimized by the company.

  6. Here on the customer side of the airline industry I can assure that the laws of supply and demand are in effect – every day. The airlines are nothing short of masters when it comes to figuring out just exactly how much they can get away with (over)-charging their customers.

    Isn’t it funny that when the tables are turned, this supply-demand thingy is just too hard for them to figure out??? Raise pilots’ pay and benefits a bit and poof – the shortage goes away.

  7. I remember reading an article in USA Today about the life of regional pilots; it was an article I read with interest, since I’d pursued my Commercial/Instrument years ago with the hope of becoming a professional pilot. Unfortunately, due to a medical issue and the end of the Cold War (the military downsized, FLOODING the market with good, qualified aviators), my window of opportunity closed; ergo, I did a career in technology instead. After seeing all the BS one goes through to be a regional pilot; after seeing the HARD LIFE a regional pilot, particularly FOs, live; after seeing the long odds of making it to a legacy carrier; I’m glad that life’s circumstances forced me to do something else. I earn a decent living, and I get to go home every night!

    Anyway, I remember in the article how one pilot left the profession entirely. The pilot said that she’d found a better paying job that allowed her to have a normal life, and that she’d left aviation for good. Can’t say I blame her. The article said that regional FOs make less than the flight attendants on their flights; hell, some of ’em could’ve made more working for McDonalds! When prospective pilots read that, what do YOU think they’ll do? They’ll do something else-duh!

  8. One who claims that there is no pilot shortage has an insight shortage. There clearly has been no supply of new pilots since 911

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