Airline pilots rank right up there in respected professions with doctors, police officers, and firemen. Commercial pilots enjoy some fantastic pay and benefits as they progress in their jobs. They also get to fly to some pretty fabulous worldwide destinations, and get paid for it at the same time. In recent years, the airline industry has not been hiring very many new pilots. In part due to skyrocketing fuel costs and a weakened global economy, fresh fliers have not had much success landing pilot jobs. Instead, they have chosen to switch gears and search for openings elsewhere, such as in the computer and technology sector.
All of that is about to change dramatically. On the horizon, a surge of unprecedented magnitude is flowing straight for airline companies all around the world. In one extreme example, airplane manufacturer Boeing has forecasted that they will require almost half a million new pilots in the next 18 years. Flight schools would be wise to anticipate this need and begin to offer more classes. At least in the US, many commercial pilots are approaching the mandatory retirement age of 65. There currently aren’t enough pilot training programs to fill the expanding need.
The shortage of pilots getting ready to strike the industry is unparalleled in scope. Never before has there been a coming hiring boom of this size. Those individuals now or shortly beginning a pilot training program will have immense opportunity in front of them, whether it is at a regional airline or as a transoceanic passenger pilot. Typically, when an individual leaves flight training and enters the industry as a pilot, they have a large debt-to-income ratio. All that could change, based on the future shortage of qualified pilots.
Another lesser reason for the pilot shortage is a new change to safety rules. Now, pilots must have more flight training time (1500 flight hours) in order to be hired by carriers. Going along with increased weekly rest times and mandatory rest between flights, stricter flight training standards for all cockpit crew personnel are also new requirements. Signed into law in August 2010, and combined with the other factors building toward a pilot shortage, now is a great time for new commercial pilots to be graduating from flight school.