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Pilot Shortage Is Here


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  • 9 months later...

Airlines will need 637,000 new pilots over next 20 years: Boeing


Jul 25, 2017, 03.23 PM IST 

NEW YORK: Airlines will need 637,000 new pilots over the next 20 years to keep pace with the growth of global air traffic, Boeing reported Tuesday in an annual report on the subject.

 Its latest estimate of the pilot requirements is up 3.6 percent from last year's report.

 Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region alone will need 253,000 new pilots, a third of the total, according to the report, which was prepared by Boeing's Global Services Division. It put North America's requirement .. 

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  • 2 months later...

Interesting move by the USAF.


The Air Force has been scrambling to address a huge shortfall in combat pilots. Friday's order greatly expands the Pentagon's ability to recall them.

Air Force could recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots to address serious shortage

Tom Vanden Brook and Gregory Korte, USA TODAY Published 4:18 p.m. ET Oct. 20, 2017 | Updated 8:08 p.m. ET Oct. 20, 2017

The Air Force's ranks grew during the 2016 fiscal year, so why is there still a shortage of pilots. The Air Force is currently 1,500 pilots short of the 20,300 it is mandated to have. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an executive order Friday allowing the Air Force to recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots to active duty to address a shortage in combat fliers, the White House and Pentagon announced.

By law, only 25 retired officers can be brought back to serve in any one branch. Trump's order removes those caps by expanding a state of national emergency declared by President George W. Bush after 9/11, signaling what could be a significant escalation in the 16-year-old global war on terror.

"We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years," Navy Cdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. 

But the executive order itself is not specific to the Air Force, and could conceivably be used in the future to call up more officers and in other branches.

More: Army is accepting more low-quality recruits, giving waivers for marijuana to hit targets

The Air Force needs about 1,500 pilots more than it has. Bonus programs and other incentives have not made up the shortfall.

The Air Force has been at the forefront of the Pentagon's battle against the Islamic State, flying most of the combat sorties in Iraq and Syria since 2014. 

In June, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., labeled the pilot shortage a crisis that would prevent the Air Force from fulfilling its mission. 

“This is a full-blown crisis, and if left unresolved, it will call into question the Air Force’s ability to accomplish its mission,” said McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. 

Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst and vice president of the Teal Group, said the shortage stemmed from a number of issues. 

"One is competition from commercial airlines," Aboulafia said. "Another is delays and funding shortfalls in training. And, due to military operations, utilization of the aircraft and crew has been higher than expected."

More: A permanent emergency: Trump becomes third president to renew extraordinary post-9/11 powers

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and a member of Armed Services Committee, said that the fight against Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked terrorists will be expanding. He spoke to reporters while speaking about the four U.S. soldiers killed Oct. 4 in Niger.

Counter-terrorism rules under President Obama had been too restrictive and ineffective, Graham said.

“The war is morphing," Graham said. "You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. You’re going to have decisions made not in the White House but out in the field. And I support that entire construct.”

Last month, President Trump became the third president to renew the post-9/11 state of national emergency, which allows the president to call up the national guard, hire and fire officers and delay retirements.

Those extraordinary powers were supposed to be temporary. But even after 16 years, there's been no congressional oversight of the emergency

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Whether civilian, or military, using line pilots to fly drones or serve in ground based training roles would seem to be a waste of resources when there are so many retiring air carrier pilots available to fill the seats.  

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50 minutes ago, DEFCON said:

Whether civilian, or military, using line pilots to fly drones or serve in ground based training roles would seem to be a waste of resources when there are so many retiring air carrier pilots available to fill the seats.  

Look at it this way...

Captain Roger Ramjet, having flown for Giterther Airlines  for 25 years isn't much use to the military when he has no idea of the regimented order of command in the Military, or the actual protocols that are prevalent in the Service. Besides that, most retired Air Carrier pilots are approaching the age of dirt so do not fall within the parameters the USAF wants and probably would not like the rules and regulations adhered to in the service......... seeing that, in the airline industry,  they were God-Like for so many years...:lol::lol:.

It doesn't take many resources/training/money to freshen up a non-ancient  Military pilot if he/she goers back to the "there's no life like it" B)

Edited by Kip Powick
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Sorry, I was confusing.

Air Force should stay with Air Force and so on. For instance, In the military world, retired combat aviators could be re-employed as part time drone pilots and on the civilian side, there'll always be quite a few old guys that don't want to leave the industry and would love to do part time sym work and things like that during the early years of their retirement. 

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USAF Rejects Retired Pilot Recall

By Geoff Rapoport | October 23, 2017

The U.S. Air Force said on Sunday there are no plans to use the powers created by President Donald Trump last week to force the recall of retired pilots. "We appreciate the authorities and flexibility delegated to us," said Ann Stefanek, chief of Air Force media operations on Sunday. However, "the Air Force does not currently intend to recall retired pilots to address the pilot shortage,” Stefanek said.

The White House made waves last week by amending a 9/11-era executive order granting the Department of Defense emergency powers to force the recall of retired military officers to active duty. Department of Defense spokesman Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross had said he expected the Secretary of Defense would use the power to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for three years each, a plan that had evidently not been run past Air Force leadership. Senior Air Force officials have told Congress they are short about 1,500 pilots, a number they expect will grow for several years as airlines continue to hire en masse and the Air Force works to build up training resources. The branch is mostly short fighter pilots who have been most affected by more than 16 years at war.

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The Air Force (at least ours) has a bit of trouble getting out of its own way. When I left, I made it very clear I was happy to return until CRA ( age 60) given a firm OTU date and  45 mins notice. Left my number, flying suit in the closet... no calls.


There is a weak link at the Sqn Cmdr level. By that I mean, they need to understand that pilots are retained one at a time but are lost two and three at a time in a concept I call "POOF". Here's what I mean:


Capt X: Currently in an extended ground tour and counting the days and minutes until his OTU date. He is six years from CRA and a veteran. Multi tour, multi discipline... the type of experience you can only grow at great cost to the RCAF. Wants nothing more than to step out of an airplane on his 60th birthday and play golf.


Capt Y: Finishing up his third flying tour and wants to be an OTU instructor. A pilots pilot, good hands and good situational awareness. The sort of guy you simply can't afford to lose. Word is, he will bolt if sentenced to a ground job.


Capt Z: Smart guy... engineering degree from RMC and working on his masters. One of those pilots who lacks situational awareness... he can fly, he can coordinate the battle space, but simply can't do both at the same time. Major lapses has caused his inability to upgrade on two previous tours. Very happy to work ground jobs and excels at planning, CAOC and staff duties. Lacks confidence and doesn't want to fly any more.


So what to do... If you retired as a Major or above, you already know what happened.  Capt Z's CO was of the mind that pilots fly, and by God, that's what this guy is going to do. He is bumped into Capt X's OTU slot and Capt X is delayed (and extended in place) for a year. Capt X pulls his 30 day notice card and hits the golf course early.


Capt Y is drafted to fill Capt X's ground job which is now vacant. He has had three tours in row... time to pull his weight right? Capt Y puts in his release and six months later steps into another airplane... it doesn't say RCAF on the side of it.


Capt Z is unhappy and stressed in the new flying job. He hates it, his wife hates it and his kids want their Dad back. He takes his release and goes to work as an engineer.




PS. Don't waste band width telling me about the "exigency of the service".  I'm part of the  POOF concept and it was easily avoided.


Edited by Wolfhunter
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Me..... Poof ????

Well sorta but for other reasons...

Six  tours under my belt with one great ground job between # 4 and #5.....Offered a promotion if I would stay one more year in  that ground job. "No"...wanted to fly so completed the last two tours  and when the opportunity came up, via the grapevine, to flip to WD on the A310..........well....out immediately and flew for WD and during the first year was still collecting Mil pay as I had accumulated over a year of unused Leave :lol: During that same year I received a call from DND asking if I wanted IPS...in those days it was called Indefinite Period of Service and had I taken it I would have retired at the same age I did in the airline business.

During my last few years in DND I saw the failure of many of the smaller companies and saw many ex-Mil trying to get back in the Service, and many did but their initial entry was not a cockpit. My decision to leave was based on the fact that I had enough time for a full Mil pension so why not get out, get higher pay, and fly newer equipment?

In a nutshell.....Lucky/Fortunate..I guess............ and I loved both my Mil flying career and the airline career and when I was punted through the goal posts at age 60, I felt I had just enjoyed a job for over 42 years so it did not hurt to leave "it" all behind........have never been sorry one day in my life for the career  choices I made and the best choice in all that time was  "her".:wub:

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Re the USAF, it appears from some reports that the reason they said "No Thanks" is that they need combat pilots and not retreads who are only capable of other missions such as transport etc. 

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1 hour ago, Malcolm said:

Re the USAF, it appears from some reports that the reason they said "No Thanks" is that they need combat pilots and not retreads who are only capable of other missions such as transport etc. 

You mean a 55 year old 'Maverick' or 'Iceman' are not available?

With year 2 pay at the legacy carriers US$130K+, there will be lots more shortfalls in military staffing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Interesting approach by the US.  

New DOT program aims to put more vets in airline cockpits

By Robert Silk / November 17, 2017

The DOT has unveiled a research initiative aimed at helping military veterans become commercial pilots.

The program, called Forces to Flyers, is slated to begin as commercial airlines in the U.S. face a growing pilot shortage.

"In order for America to continue to be a world leader in aviation, we must search for ways to address our country's pilot shortage, invest in our nation's workforce and ensure that our veterans have the support they need as they transition to the next phase of their careers," Transportation secretary Elaine Chao said in prepared remarks Thursday.

Under the program, veterans will be offered flight training up to the point where they can be licensed as commercial flight instructors. From there, the DOT said, trainees can use paid flight instructor jobs to obtain the remaining hours they need to qualify for the Air Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate that is required of U.S. commercial airline pilots.

The department said as many as 40 veterans would be accepted into the program.

Under regulations put in place in 2013, aspiring pilots must obtain 1,500 hours of flight time to be eligible to sit in the co-captain's seat of a commercial aircraft. The expense of obtaining those 1,500 hours is regarded by many as a significant cause of the pilot shortage. Under the rules it replaced, pilots could launch their careers at regional carriers with as few as 250 hours in the cockpit.

According to Dan Akins, a transportation economist and founder of the consulting firm Flightpath Economics, the U.S. commercial airline industry is short approximately 500 pilots this year. But that number will balloon to 2,000 next year and 4,000 by 2022, as some 13,000 to 15,000 pilots at Delta, United, American and Southwest reach retirement age.

According to Boeing's 2016 Outlook, North American commercial carriers will need to hire 112,000 pilots by 2035 to meet demand.

Meanwhile, the pilot shortage has already led to closures, bankruptcies and service cuts at regional airlines and corresponding cuts in air service to small U.S. communities.

The shortage has some policy makers examining ways to ease the 1,500-hour rule. Existing regulations allow ex-military pilots as well as graduates of university and college flight-training programs to obtain an ATP license with 750, 1,000 and 1,250 hours of flight time, respectively. A proposal put out last month by an FAA advisory committee would slash the hour requirement to 500 for pilots in those three categories who subsequently complete a standardized training module that would be offered by airlines.

In addition, the Senate Commerce Committee, under the direction of chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), has included a provision in its proposed FAA reauthorization bill that would give the agency authority to reduce the 1,500-hour requirement for aspiring pilots who don't go through the usual military or academic pathways but instead get their training entirely through programs run by commercial airlines.

Such proposals, however, face entrenched opposition, including from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the most powerful pilots' union in the country, which argues that the 1,500-hour rule has increased safety in U.S. skies.

The DOT said that during the three-year-long Forces to Flyers program, "researchers will also study pathways for entering the pilot workforce, identify barriers to training and employment and design and implement an initiative that can provide flight training to individuals interested in becoming commercial pilots."

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  • 2 weeks later...

According to  Willie   there is no shortage of pilots, the shortage is "qualified pilots".

No shortage of pilots in airline industry, IAG boss Willie Walsh says

Ryanair flight cancellation troubles ‘a blip’ and not a structural issue, says IAG chief

about 4 hours ago


The chief executive of the International Airlines Group (IAG), Willie Walsh, said there is no shortage of pilots in the airline industry, despite recent troubles with flight cancellations at Ryanair.

Speaking at the Shannon Chamber of Commerce’s president’s lunch at Dromoland Castle, Mr Walsh referred to Ryanair’s recent flight cancellation troubles and said “the bigger problem that Ryanair faced was a shortage of people with sufficient experience to be promoted to captain”.

He said: “There are lots of pilots in the market – there aren’t many who have the qualifications to fly as a captain.” As reported earlier this month in The Irish Times, Mr Walsh said Aer Lingus had recently received 3,000 applications for 100 pilot jobs.

IAG owns and operates Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia airlines and Mr Walsh described Ryanair’s recent flight cancellation troubles as “a blip”.

In relation to what had happened to Ryanair, Mr Walsh said: “I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

He said: “Michael O’Leary is an incredible competitor, very aggressive. If anyone could fix it, he would fix it and he has done that.”

Mr Walsh added: “I don’t buy into the belief that this was something structural. It was just a blip. Ryanair has fixed it and has moved on and they will be as strong as ever. Personally, I don’t take any pleasure out of seeing someone else go through some difficulty and we wish Michael O’Leary well.”

Human resources

Under Mr Walsh’s leadership, IAG has increased its workforce from 57,000 employees in 2011 to 63,000 employees today but Mr Walsh said that IAG doesn’t have a human resources (HR) department.

He said: “It is something I do slightly differently – I refuse to have a HR department.”

He told the packed audience that “outsourcing your management of people to a HR department is wrong”.

He said: “We all have a responsibility to the people that we work with and for . . . It is fascinating to see how an organisation tries to create one and comes up with innovative names and as soon as spot them I get rid of them.”

Mr Walsh also said: “My ambition for Aer Lingus is unlimited because until we discover we have gone everywhere we can and there is nowhere left go to, I think there is huge opportunity for the company.”

Today with the recently announced Dublin-Seattle route, Aer Lingus operates 13 routes to the United States from Ireland, compared with six when IAG purchased the company in 2015.

Mr Walsh said the process to purchase the “trophy asset” Aer Lingus was “tortuous”: “It bemused my colleagues in London when they would read about the questions we were being asked and the challenges that were being levelled against us.

“We bought it because we wanted to grow it and we have already exceeded all of the commitments we gave.

“We wanted to purchase Aer Lingus because of its transatlantic network. We saw great opportunity there.”

Mr Walsh said the airline is to take delivery of eight new 180-seat Airbus A321LR aircraft in 2019 for its transatlantic network, which he believes will be a “potential game-changer” for the airline.

“I could see us operating with 20 of these aircraft in due course,” he said. “We are fully committed to exploiting the opportunities we saw when we purchased Aer Lingus.”

He said the company had already identified 10 potential new cities to fly to in the US.

Mr Walsh pointed out that the demand from the population around the greater Dublin area alone could not sustain the new service to Seattle.

“There is no way that Aer Lingus would be able to fly to Seattle if it didn’t have customers flying from Europe and the UK into Dublin to connect.”

He said that there is no way there would be the sufficient demand in the local market around Dublin “to sustain a route for a destination like Seattle or indeed to Miami, or to Los Angeles, or Philadelphia, or to San Francisco.”

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  • 1 month later...


How the high-flying job of a pilot lost its glamour

Wages, length of training, cost of school among reasons the profession struggles to attract new recruits

Tue Jan 09, 2018 - CBC News


As a child, Troy Stephens was fortunate enough to spend many hours soaring across the Atlantic between Canada and the U.K. to visit family. Those flights piqued his interest in aviation.

"I used to be able to go up to the cockpit and look at what was going on at 30-some thousand feet in the air," said Stephens, who started with Air Georgian 20 years ago as a pilot and joined the airline's executive team last year.

Back in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, a pilot carried an aura of prestige with the crisp suit, striped cuffs and brimmed airline hat. Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, captures the position's esteem as he walks down a sidewalk and catches everyone's eye, including kids who beg for an autograph.

Such respect and admiration for the person in the cockpit chair has since diminished, as have the desire for people to choose a career in aviation.

Stephens wonders if the fact kids these days can no longer have the same experience as he did, at the front of the plane mid-flight, is one reason why more people aren't aspiring to become pilots anymore.

"That's what got me hooked on flying. Now the door is locked," he said, referring to the post-9/11 rules requiring the cockpit door to be shut during flights.

The notion is shared by Bob Connors, who runs one of the largest flight schools in the country. He too recalls rubbing shoulders with pilots during a flight as a kid.

"For safety reasons, that's no longer," said Connors, general manager of Kitchener, Ont-based Wellington Waterloo Flight Centre. "There have not been as many opportunities for kids to experience aviation."

"Young, sharp men and women who might have aspired to a career in aviation might have went 'Geez, maybe I shouldn't do that right now because I read about layoffs and I read about salaries not being where they could be,'"



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They still don't want to admit to it- wages and conditions are so bad in Canada that no young kid wants any part of it. Anyone with experience can't afford to come back and pilots are leaving Canada for big dollars elsewhere.

The other issue, which Canada and Canadian companies have not had to deal with yet is the lack of experience. You can have inexperienced FO's, as Canada has now and has in the past. What you can't have is inexperienced FO's with inexperienced captains which is something I think is quickly happening in Canada. The last few years I have seen the results at EK (lasts of issues that have not made the news) and I am sure at many other airlines. Numerous accidents/incidents and almost accidents that have been due to inexperience.

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It doesn't help that every other week there's an article about pilotless aircraft. Airlines can pay all the money, improve the working conditions, sponsor flight schools until they're blue in the face. But if the industry is working behind your back, or rather right in front of your face to eliminate the very job you're considering investing your life in, maybe the smart, long-range-thinking young adult comes quickly to the conclusion that they don't want to take the risk only to reach their prime earning years and be innovated out of a job. 

Uber is ostensibly rolling out pilotless aircraft imminently. Autonomous cars are all the rage. Innovating humans out of transport operator jobs is de rigeur. Against this backdrop, airlines need pilots. Which is a hugely difficult, demanding, time consuming and expensive profession to pursue. 

Macroeconomics is also being largely debunked. Or if not debunked then diminished greatly in its assumed ability to forecast changes. Politics, even in first world countries, is more unstable than ever, and the world zeitgeist is generally anti-labour. Management is anti-labour, politics is anti-labour, and airlines occupy a central seat in the remaining world of organized labour, such as it is.

First world kids see the shortage, but do they trust the forecast (18 gazillion pilots needed...really? Macro is wrong all the time now). Do they trust tech (will commercial aircraft just be drones in 20 yrs?) Do they trust politicians (will they just drop borders and allow airlines to import students from the third world willing to train and work for peanuts?) Do they trust airlines themselves, their future employers?


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Law of supply and demand.

Entry level wages must go up. Poor working conditions must become a thing of the past (24 hour reserve/floating days off/20+ working days per month).

Some carriers are immune - or at least think that they are. Others may have to shrink or possibly disappear.

The pendulum has swung and some operators seem not to understand what is happening. The days of treating commercial pilots like indentured servants are over.

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The problem is also one of a culture change. In the past, pilots were looked up to.  There was glamour / prestige in those skies thus it was a career to pursue.  Now that has gone (at least so I understand for most) and the remaining role is more like that of a bus driver (not to take away those few times where skill and training brings back the cloak of a hero) and monitor of automation.  That being the case, it is no wonder that the only driver left is $$$$$$. 

it was not that long ago when being a pilot would have topped this list:


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I have zero sympathy for the industry in Canada. The small operators (Buffalo Airways of Ice Pilots Fame) have exploited Pilot labour for decades, frankly they can all go broke and shut down.  Jazz and Encore pay new hires less than the Flight Attendant or Baggage Handler, AC and WestJet are not much better.  The two big Airlines still have their heads in the sand (or stuck elsewhere,) thinking they are immune. 

Mr Magoo saw this coming,  you can earn 100K / year driving a GTAA Bus with a grade 6 education.  Or, invest over 100K in training and education,  move to Yellowknife, sweep the hanger, fuel the Airplane, serve the coffee, wash Joe's car.  If you are lucky you will match that GTAA bus driver in 10 years.  Is it any wonder no one I know would ever want their kids becoming Pilots, how tragic coming from Professionals that love what they do.

Then there is the traveling public that believe they are entitled to Airfare, less than the cab ride to the Airport.  Plenty of blame to go around, most of it squarely on Pilot Associations for putting up with it.  

Open the US Border to Canadian Pilots and watch the place implode.




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6 hours ago, Johnny said:

Open the US Border to Canadian Pilots and watch the place implode.


That would be phase two of the pending supply side malaise which will start if/when green cards become available to experienced pilots. In the near future, I expect that experience will be seen (by the MBA crew) as a valuable cost saver when viewed through the lens of inexperienced FOs paired with inexperienced Capts… something they have not had to deal with yet. When you can’t retain instructors (because they are seen as experienced) it’s a clue that the time is near at hand.

The operators who created this will begin poaching each others experience and training backlogs (and costs) will soar at the very time that training availability is most needed to save themselves from future pain. The supply side will not be able to keep up and wages will cease to be the issue as 100% of available resources will not be sufficient to match the operational tempo. This has been discussed right here at length before, it only needs the right circumstances. It is currently the bane of military personnel managers everywhere and It’s easy to envision a scenario where only an economic slow down will save them from themselves. All of it self inflicted and all of it unnecessary. The best part is there is still enough time to buy enough time to limit the pain...  I bet they won't though.

Edited by Wolfhunter
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