There is a commercial pilot shortage plaguing airlines across the nation, and as we look forward to 2015 it appears that this trend is only going to intensify. The current state of the aviation industry in the United States is causing headaches for airlines struggling to meet the demand for flights while ensuring their pilots are given the adequate rest they need. This shortage is also creating an ideal environment for new pilots completing flight school and embarking on a career in commercial aviation. With increasing demand for commercial pilots and continued growth in this job market is expected over the next 20 years! The current pilot shortage is creating new opportunities for aviators to enter this highly regarded profession.
Understanding the Pilot Shortage
Many factors have contributed to the current commercial pilot shortage, which is expected to escalate in 2015 and beyond. The Federal Aviation Administration’s new rules for First Officer Qualifications include an increase in the number of hours that first officers are required to complete – to 1,500 hours – effectively reducing the number of qualified pilots in the job pool. Another new rule added to the Federal Aviation Regulations, FAR Part 117, has also increased the number of pilots that air carriers are required to employ to ensure adequate rest hours between shifts. This new rule alone has created an estimated increase in over 8% of total airline pilots the airlines must hire to comply.
With older pilots retiring year after year, the demand for new pilots with adequate training and sufficient flight hours is that much greater. The demand is particularly intense for regional airlines in the U.S., which currently employ fewer than 18,000 pilots in total. At the same time, our nation’s major airlines are expected to require more than 18,000 new pilots due to retirements over the next decade, and Boeing even predicts that half a million new pilots will be needed over the next two decades. Many of the pilots currently working for regional airlines are expected to leave their current positions to help fill this void within major airlines, essentially shifting the shortage from one area of the industry to another. Airports across the nation are losing service, and many more are at risk. United Airlines has even ended its Cleveland service due to its shortage of qualified pilots available to fly.
What This Means for Budding Pilots
The situation appears dire for regional airlines and their passengers around the United States, but for those considering a career in aviation this shortage is creating abundant opportunities to join the work force. Pay rates are on the rise and many airlines offer signing bonuses to entice new pilots and to fill the increasing number of vacancies in the industry. Coast Flight even offers student pilots the opportunity to interview with SkyWest and secure a Conditional Offer of Employment, so those who have what it takes will already have a job waiting for them upon completion of their required training and flight hours.
There couldn’t be a better time to become an airline pilot. Contact Coast Flight today to learn more about what it takes.
See how airlines are reacting to this news in 2015 by reading about Endeavor’s Pilot Retention Program!
United States Army Veteran Scott Miller’s story is a compelling and inspiring example of a man facing adversity yet refusing to give up on his dreams. On November 25, 2014, Scott completed his private pilot check ride and medical flight test at Coast Flight’s college partner, Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. Becoming a certificated private pilot after serving in the National Guard is an impressive set of achievements on its own, but Miller’s circumstances make this feat all the more remarkable. Scott Miller lost the use of his legs after a motorcycle accident several years ago, but he didn’t let this impede his positive attitude and drive to succeed. Miller’s story serves as motivation for all future pilots and anyone who faces challenges on the road to success.
Many people would have given up and accepted defeat after losing the use of their legs, but not Scott Miller. The National Guard soldier fractured two vertebrae during a motorcycle accident following a drill weekend in Des Moines, Iowa several years back, which left him paraplegic. He was headed towards his home in the neighboring town of Albia that day when he hit a pothole and landed on railroad tracks near by. But instead of giving up on or settling for a lesser dream, Scott started flight training at Indian Hills Community College in late 2012.
Scott’s Path to an Aviation Career
After learning the basics in the college’s Redbird simulator, Miller began the required training and flight hours to prepare for his pilot check ride and medical flight test at Indian Hills Community College. He was able to complete all the required flight training to become a certificated private pilot. In large part, Miller’s success can be attributed to a Union hand control specially designed by a local aviation expert for the Cessna 172 he used during his private pilot training. Miller passed both tests with flying colors on November 25, 2014. His next goal is to complete the college’s advanced flight training, notes Indian Hills Chief Flight Instructor Darren Graham. “A group like this who believes in you and encourages you is what makes me have the drive to keep going,” Miller said during a recent interview The Ottumwa Courier. “Anyone can do it,” he later added.
After completing his advanced flight training, Scott’s next goal is to purchase his own airplane that he can use for charter flights, crop dusting, banner towing, firefighting or flight instruction. At that time he will be legally qualified to fly any private type of plane, excluding jets and airlines.
Proud College Partners
Coast flight is proud to call Indian Hills Community College a partner, enabling new opportunities for pilots-in-training to earn an accredited, online associate’s degree in Aviation Pilot Training while undergoing flight training at Coast’s San Diego campus. After completing the required flight ratings, students can even begin working as a commercial pilot as soon as they finish the online degree. See Scott’s experience at http://youtu.be/cMKKpX_u490
Contact Coast Flight today to learn more.
There are many reasons why people become pilots. These reasons are often rooted in some childhood dream, or an innate desire to travel, or the sheer joy of taking flight, or a desire to lead and take care of others. Training to become a professional pilot is certainly one of the most respected, challenging, action-packed and fulfilling career paths a person can take. There are other considerations you need to make before choosing a career and investing in your education, though. Most people must also factor in the cost of their education and the potential salary they could earn once they enter their career field. Fortunately for pilots, the return on investment is excellent compared to other industries. Just consider how the ROI for professional pilots’ education and training matches up to that of other esteemed professionals including teachers, doctor and lawyers.
In order to enter a revered profession such as teaching, legal counsel, medicine or aviation, you must first complete a high level of postsecondary education. The length of time that students must spend in an accredited university and/or training program, and the cost of doing so, inevitably varies depending on the professional career they are preparing for. While all of these professions require about the same level of undergraduate education, that is where the similarities end. Just consider the national averages for the cost of required education to become a teacher, pilot, lawyer and doctor:
• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = N/A
• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = $51,900
• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = $55,416
• average undergraduate cost = $87,032
• average specialty education cost = $232,564
Of the four honorable professions under the spotlight, it’s easy to see that teachers spend the least on their postsecondary education. This is because many teaching jobs in elementary, middle or high schools only require a bachelor’s degree (although some K-12 teaching jobs require a master’s degree, and all postsecondary teaching jobs require at least a master’s degree). And with an average total education cost of $87,032 for teachers, $138,932 for pilots, $142,488 for lawyers and $319,596 for doctors, it’s clear that doctors spend the most (by a landslide). What really matters, though, is the potential returns for this initial investment in education and training. Consider the median annual salaries for teachers, pilots, lawyers and doctors in the United States:
• median annual salary = $49,140
• median annual salary = $111,680
• median annual salary = $110,590
• median annual salary = $186,044
What this all means is that of these four career paths, pilots enjoy the greatest return on investment. It’s important to consider that teachers typically have 43 career earning years, pilots typically have 42, lawyers typically have 40, and doctors typically have 34. So if you figure the return on investment for each career, which is ((annual salary × years in career) – education costs), and divide that by the education costs, you will find the following:
• Teachers earn $23 for every $1 invested in education
• Pilots earn $33 for every $1 invested in education
• Lawyers earn $30 for every $1 invested in education
• Doctors earn $19 for every $1 invested in education
In addition to the great return on investment in the aviation field, the high median annual salary for aviation graduates allows them to pay off their education costs more quickly than these other skilled professionals as they move up in their careers. This economic freedom enables pilots to enjoy the things they love about their careers, from adventure and travel to responsibility and respect, without as much worry.
If you’ve flown recently in the United States or abroad, you may have noticed some cuts in service. You may also notice a few changes around the U.S. airline industry if you plan on flying soon. There is a growing shortage of qualified domestic pilots in the U.S. according to figures from major airlines, and this shortage is only expected to grow as the demand for new pilots continues to increase while the number of existing pilots diminishes. It is an international problem, in fact, as airlines from Japan to Latin America are seeing the effects. In the United States, the facts about this domestic airline pilot shortage should speak for themselves.
This shortage of pilots in the U.S. and abroad isn’t exactly a surprise, as the International Civil Aviation Organization (the UN’s aviation agency) began warning about a shortage of qualified pilots across the globe two years ago. The shortage is hitting the U.S. sooner and harder than anticipated, though, leaving some airlines with no choice but to cut services. There are several reasons for this shortage, adding up to an unanticipated demand for new pilots:
• Many of the most experienced and esteemed pilots in the industry have recently retired or are expecting to retire, for starters.
• The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also increased the training requirements for new pilots, deterring some students and keeping those who do want to be pilots in school a bit longer.
• New industry standards have increased the required amount of rest pilots must have before returning to their next shift.
These are good rules, of course, that add to the safety of the airlines. Adhering to them does present some initial challenges, though. It has been particularly troublesome for regional airlines, who are not able to offer the same pay as major carriers. Of course, existing pilots will inevitably snap up higher paying jobs as soon as they can. With many pilots from the major carriers retiring or scheduled to retire in the near future, regional airlines are losing pilots faster than they can think about replacing them. The result, for now, is cancelled flights and reduced services. But there are solutions on the horizon.
While flights are being cancelled and services are being cut, airlines are also hurrying to hire new pilots and flight training institutions are working diligently to recruit new students. Delta Airlines has recalled all of the pilots who were furloughed during tougher times, and has been working to hire an additional 20-50 pilots a month throughout the year. United Airlines has also reported that it plans to recall hundreds of its furloughed pilots. The union that represents American Airlines Group expects to lose as many as half of its 8,800 pilots as they retire or leave the company in the next decade, and anticipates the need to hire as many as 100 pilots a month to keep up with the demands.
So, while there may be some inconveniences for U.S. passengers for the time being, the aviation industry is working hard to solve it. For example, Coast Flight is addressing the shortage issue. For budding pilots, this is a great time to enter the industry, as there are many jobs currently available and many more to open up soon.
with its Aviation Career Training (ACT) program. It removes the post-training stress of finding a job by offering employment prior to the beginning of training, allowing future pilots the freedom of mind to focus on getting through the program and into the career path of their dreams. So if you are a budding pilot, now is an excellent time to start your career.
Recent reports show there is a shortage of trained and qualified aviation graduates, with an estimated shortfall of more than 70,000 U.S. air transport pilots. This trend is certainly not limited to the United States, though. In fact, two of the biggest budget carriers in Japan are planning to cancel hundreds of flights this summer due to a shortage of available pilots. This goes to show that the problem with pilot shortages is an international problem, and that it may be an ideal time for students to get the required training and enter the exciting field of aviation.
The Japanese budget airline Vanilla Air recently reported that there are not enough pilots to fly all of the scheduled flights this month, and attempts to secure enough pilots have not been successful in time to meet current demands. Additionally, some crewmembers have also recently moved on, leaving Vanilla Air between a rock and a hard place. All Nippon Airways (ANA), the owner and operator of Vanilla Air, says that it will have no choice but to cancel one third of the flights it has scheduled for June. That amounts to a total of 154 flights, which may affect as many as 2,500 scheduled passengers. Passengers with reservations for these 154 cancelled flights will be guaranteed seats on other airlines, according to ANA president, Tomonori Ishii. The carrier, which is the product of a recent joint venture with a Malaysian airline, says it is working to hire recently graduated pilots and borrow some from other airlines in order to resume full operations in July.
One of Vanilla Air’s competitors, Peach Aviation, is facing similar problems. In fact, Peach Aviation Ltd. predicts that it may have to cancel more than 2,000 flights between now and October because it doesn’t have enough qualified pilots. Peach is also fairly new to the scene, operating since 2012, but its low-cost flights quickly attracted a high number of passengers. While the carrier was meeting the demand for flights at first, a recent shortage of pilots due to illness and other reasons has left Peach unable to satisfy the increasing number of passengers looking to fly. According to Peach CEO, Shinichi Inoue, more than 15% of their pilots are unavailable to fly due to health reasons, and they have been unable to recruit a sufficient number of new pilots and crewmembers, or promote from within. This series of cancellations could affect as many as 2,088 flights which would have carried approximately 26,000 passengers.
The United Nations specialized aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), began warning about pilot shortages two years ago, and the problem is expected to reach a critical mass in Asia, Latin America and Africa by 2030. For those interested in pursuing a career in aviation, whether in Asia or any other part of the world, it might just be the ideal time to begin the education and training to fulfill this demand.
Projecting a professional image is a key requirement for achieving success as a commercial pilot. The National Transportation Safety Board considers pilot professionalism to be of such critical importance in the aviation field that it sponsored a 2010 forum specifically devoted to this topic. Appearance, decisiveness, initiative and an unselfish attitude are essential elements in building your reputation as a consummate professional.
Keeping your uniform clean and pressed can help you present a crisp, pulled-together image for your passengers and crew. Meticulous attention to detail will help you look your best on the job:
• Shoes and belts should match and should be in a dark or neutral shade. Shoes for both men and women should be polished and appropriate to the working environment.
• Hats, if worn, should be in good taste and be worn in the appropriate way.
• Neatly trimmed, clean hair is a must for both men and women in the aviation industry. Extreme fashion statements are to be avoided when choosing hairstyles. For men, a neatly groomed mustache is typically acceptable; a full beard or shaggy mustache is not.
• Visible piercings and tattoos are frowned upon in the professional environment. Single pierced earrings for women are an exception to this general rule.
• Duty uniforms must be clean, pressed and worn according to employer regulations.
Even when you are not on duty, making an effort to look your best and to dress conservatively can reinforce your professional image.
As a pilot, you will be called upon to make critical decisions on a daily basis. Thinking quickly and making the right calls is absolutely essential to ensure the safety of your passengers and crew. An assertive and calm demeanor is your best asset in making tough calls and can help you inspire added confidence in your crew as well.
Identifying problems quickly and taking steps independently to address these challenges is one of the hallmarks of a true professional in the aviation world. Pilots are called upon not only to perform their duties but to serve as leaders among the crew and within the industry. Living up to these high standards and working proactively to address small issues before they become big problems can help you succeed in the cockpit and in the corporate arena.
As a pilot, you will depend on your crew to support and facilitate your work. Maintaining an unselfish attitude and sharing your time and resources with these vital team members can help you build a rapport that can help you weather difficult times both in the air and on the ground.
Building a reputation for professionalism can open doors of opportunity for you as a pilot and can ensure your continued success in the fast-paced world of modern aviation.
As the second in command to the captain of an aircraft, a first officer must always be ready to support his or her fellow pilot, the plane’s crew members and any passengers onboard. First officers are expected to act dependably and responsibly at all times in order to prove that they too have what it takes to be captain one day. The expectations are high, but a first officer who is able to prove their dedication and trustworthiness will often be able to move up through the ranks and become a captain. Jeff Bushnell, Col USAF (Ret), Director of Education and Aviation Standards for Coast Flight Training, recently discussed the expectations that first officers must meet in order to support their captain and prove that they are captain material. According to Bushnell, a first officer who possesses the following qualities and lives up to the following expectations should be a success.
The Top Expectations for Airline First Officers
In order to be a competent professional, the first officer must be a safe and skilled pilot above all else. This means following company procedures to the letter, possessing an excellent knowledge of the airline’s aircraft, and understanding every aspect of company and FAA regulations.
A good first officer is also expected to be someone that others enjoy being around. Regardless of what else is going on in his or her life, the first officer must be able to get along with their captain and other colleagues if they’re going to successfully work together in cramped quarters for days at a time. Being unpleasant isn’t only annoying – it could put safety at risk.
If a first officer doesn’t show respect to every member of their team, they will not gain any respect from other members of the airline’s team, including those who make decisions about promotions. First officers are expected to respect every customer, flight attendant and member of the airline personnel, regardless of rank or station.
An excellent first officer must be a highly responsible person. If anything should ever happen to the pilot, the first officer must be able to step in, take control of the situation and make the right decisions in a split second. The expectation here is that the first officer will make a prudent decision that never puts lives at risk.
Good pilots possess a pleasant personality and understand the importance of teamwork. The first officer is expected to work well with their fellow pilots, of course, but the team doesn’t end there. He or she must also work well with the maintenance personnel, gate agents and flight attendants and interact positively and personably with passengers.
The fact is that even the most skilled and qualified aircraft pilot will miss something or make at least a small mistake at some point in their career. The first officer must have the courage to speak up when their captain misses something, no matter how intimidating it may be. When lives are at stake, there is no time to stay silent.
About Jeff Bushnell
J. Jeffrey Bushnell, Col USAF (Ret), Director of Education and Aviation Standards, prepares Coast Flight Training’s students to meet the commercial aviation industry’s needs of today and tomorrow, and leads the flight school’s safety and standards. With 20,000+ flight hours under his belt, Bushnell developed Coast Flight’s extraordinary “scenario-based” (vs. maneuver-based) training syllabus, through which students learn to fly in real-life situations to different airports and through the same airspace as the airlines. Unique in the flight-training world, Coast Flight uses simulator training extensively, as do commercial airlines and the military.
Coast Flight Training has created a new position to foster the highest quality preparation for its pilot trainees and has named Col. Jeff Bushnell, USAF (Ret.) Director of Education and Aviation Standards. The retired Air Force colonel, flight examiner and squadron commander brings 43 years of military and airline aviation experience. Col. Bushnell retired from Continental Airlines with over 20,000 flight hours.
“Jeff brings over forty years of experience training pilots to military and commercial aviation standards,” said Will Dryden, Coast Flight’s President. “Jeff developed scenario-based training (SBT) while in the Air Force, long ago adapting it to the commercial carriers and has developed and ushered through the FAA-approval of Coast Flight’s unique scenario-based training program. Among other benefits of this proprietary scenario-based training, student pilots fly the same routes to the same airports as the airlines while training through various high traffic zones; they finish their training more than prepared for an airline job.”
Col. Bushnell served 29 years in the US Air Force Reserves where he began as a pilot, then instructed and tested new pilots, served as Squadron Commander and Wing Inspector General, and finally retired in 1999 as Reserve Advisor to Director of Requirements for the USAF.
In addition to a successful military career, Col. Bushnell worked in the airline industry for People Express Airlines and later Continental Airlines. He developed People Express’s Scenario-Based Training program for the B727 modeled after protocols he designed for the USAF.
Under its Aviation Career Training (ACT) Program, Coast Flight’s four-tiered pre-screening process, Coast Flight advocates for each applicant to ensure they meet the criteria to become a professional pilot, empowering candidates to make informed decisions prior to investing in an aviation career.
“Candidates don’t waste time and money without first knowing if they qualify. Coast Flight’s primary business goal is to create professional, responsible, highly trained pilots who the airlines will hire,” said Mr. Dryden. “We measure our success by the success of our candidates.”