With a thirty-five percent increase in global travelers, there are more than half a million aviation positions currently available for qualified pilots. The aviation industry is working hard to meet that demand, but experts are saying there may be a serious pilot shortage. Both fixed wing and helicopter pilots are required and, in addition, many pilots just completing their required flight times are now being hired before they can even apply for a position.
In recent years, a large majority of qualified helicopter pilots were ex-military or war pilots. These elder statesmen pilots who are now retiring from the industry and leaving many helicopter and fixed wing companies with questions and concerns as to how these open positions are going to be filled by the next generation of pilots, and how they’ll deal with a potential pilot shortage.
Another source of the world pilot shortage is that many of the airlines around the world have been increasing the amount of planes in their fleets. In Asia alone, Airbus has tripled the size of its shipments to meet the expected growth. Many of these airlines now face the hurdle of where to attain the funding to train pilots to keeps these planes safe and in the air.
Many large commercial airlines are looking to foreign nations to employ pilots to fill the empty aviation positions due to the significant increase in airline utilization. Aviation industry salaries start at $60,000 for helicopter pilots as reported for 2014. Commercial pilots are starting year average salary range from $65,000 to $120,000 with the potential to $200,000 for those pilot’s who have accumulated over 1000 flight hours. It is rare for a five-year experienced pilot to expect less than $100,000 per year.
Where will the new pilots come from and how will they get the financial support for schooling? Historically, funding for fixed wing, private and airline pilot training has been financially prohibitive for many men and women due to limited monies available, or being required to take huge personal loans to cover the cost of training. But subsequently, the aviation industry and private lenders have made funds more available to those pursing a career in the aviation or air travel industry, which may lead to more pilots and help solve the issue of the pilot shortage.
The job perks for helicopter and fixed-wing pilots are nearly endless. While it is true that the responsibilities that pilot’s carry are quite staggering in terms of human life if one sits and thinks deeply about it, these duties become second nature with experience (flight hours). It can become easier to hold the safety and well to be of other individuals when you’re own well-being is on the line as well.
One of the most popular and well known of pilot benefits has been money. Traditionally, the earning potential has been equivalent to that of a doctor (general practitioner) or a government lawyer, with much less time (in years) spent in school and as flight hours accumulate, pilots can surpass these status career’s salaries as well. But many people say that is no longer the case, and pilot salaries have been in a continual slide. With this in mind, will the perks and current salaries be able to attract enough new pilots to stem the pilot shortage?
For more, here is an interesting short interview segment with aviation education book author Rod Machado: