The impending pilot shortage that has been looming for two decades is real, and it's finally here. Pilot hiring came to a halt after 9/11 when some airlines went bankrupt, some merged and some airlines downsized. The result was that there was a surplus of pilots. Then the FAA raised the mandatory retirement age for pilots from 60 to 65, allowing Canadian airline pilots access to fly into the USA up to the age of 65. This gave the industry another 5 year hiring delay as many pilots delayed their retirement. Then there was the US financial crisis of 2007-08 which had a global economic effect - people couldn't afford to travel and airlines downsized once again. All of this culminates as the economy is recovering, airlines are growing and hundreds of pilots are forecasted to retire each year for the foreseable future. Just the other day, the CBC posted an article Who's going to fly the plane? Pilot shortage could get worse for regional carriers. New federal rules around pilot fatigue could increase problem... the data is staggering.
There has been no shortage of news lately extolling the opportunities for new pilots coming up the ranks. Australia is relaxing visa laws to attract foreign pilots (The Guardian), Horizon - Alaska Airlines Regional Carrier has been cancelling flights due to their pilot shortage (Business Insider), and although the number of newly licenced commercial pilots in Canada has stayed the steady over the past 15 years, the number of licences issued to foreigners who typically seek work outside of Canada has increased dramatically providing a reduced number of new commercial pilots into the Canadian pilot pool (Skies Magazine).
So what does this mean for millennials? It means that there is a great opportunity to become an airline pilot in short order. The catch? Pilot training costs have never been higher and pilot wages aren't keeping up. There is a movement however to increase pilot wages, improve schedules (lifestyle) and working conditions. The new fatigue rules are a good place to start in making working conditions better. For those who are driven and have a passion for aviation, the future looks bright!
Pilot Shortage is here
Katrina Maksymyk and Robin Jacuzzi, both Balmoral Hall Alumni, along with WAI members Dr Jill Oakes, Kristin Long, Jessica Biggs, Kelly Koprajda and two Nav Canada controllers hosted an aviation career presentation for 100 students on February 1st. Balmoral Hall is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) focused all-girls school.
Kristin Long attended a special Career Night with the Brownies along with a heavy equipment operator and Chrissy Troy from HOT103. The girls were introduced to non-traditional careers options for women and encouraged them that they can be anything they want to be!