Is the Pilot shortage real

According to some in the industry, there is a pilot shortage, but others say there isn’t. What is the truth? One answer is that the pilot shortage is complicated. Here are the facts for you.

22,000* pilots are projected to retire from the US Airlines, by 2030. Combine that with a worldwide expected demand by 2030 of 637,000 pilots according to Boeing (the market for North America is 117,000 pilots), and you can understand where the idea of a pilot shortage started. Boeing predicts the number of pilots based on its estimate of 41,036 planes needed for the future worldwide fleet.

Just about every media outlet has covered this.

CNN Article on the pilot figure


Wall Street Journal

Business Insider

But why do some say there isn’t a shortage?

Recently, bloggers have expressed the opinion that the real reason is not from a higher demand but from the combo of the 1,500 flight hour minimums required at regional airlines, the first step in an airline pilot’s career, and the cost of getting initial training to get pilots to that point. They like to point out that initial training costs, time, and difficulty of learning a new skill can make it a high hurdle to get over for many and even for those who have always dreamed of flying.

But regional airlines have heard all of this and addressed it by offering incentives and raised first officer pay and benefits!

ALPA offers some more on the shortage.

According to the September 28th Aviation Week Network check six podcasts there is a pilot shortage in civilian and military aviation, and it is a supply and demand problem. They address the idea of low salaries: “Use to be regional airline pilots were paid about $20k a year.” and recently because not enough pilots were recruited ” new pilots starting out in the right seat can expect $50k t0 $80k.”

This change has just occurred over the last 24 months.

Here are some regionals and a quick take on their offers and pay to offset the Pilot Shortage.

 .Aviation School Partners Trans Airline

Trans States Airline pay structure includes $10,000 in tuition reimbursement, plus, base pay for a new pilot first officer who is expected to earn up to $75,000 in total compensation during their first year alone, thanks to a $30,000 signing and retention bonus according to their website.

  • $10,000 Signing Bonus
  • $12,000 retention bonus paid at the end of year one
  • $8,000 at the end of year two.
  • $3,000 bonus for RJ Type Rating,
  • $1,500 Pilot Referral Fee.

Another regional airline pay example:

Republic Airways

  • INCREASED Our starting pay rate of $40.81/hour leads the hourly rate among all regional airlines
  • SIGNING BONUS of up to $17,500 for new hire First Officers
  • ADVANCED AIRCRAFT Our fleet of 188 planes is comprised of one type of aircraft—the ultra-modern Embraer 170/175
Many of the regional airlines offer programs that include good starting pay and sign on bonuses to drive more students into training and offset the cost of training.

ExpressJet’s PSP Partner School program for students in the VT AAA Professional Career Pilot program. It includes an early interview that leads to a guaranteed job offer after the program is completed

  •  $10,000 signing bonus
  • $7,500 bonus for having RJ Type Rating.
  • A path to United Airlines

GoJet has an intern program called the Wingman Pipeline Program that also includes a mentor and perks such as a Two-day visit to their HQ in St. Louis with a chance to fly in the full-motion CRJ simulator. Also, they receive $10,500 in tuition reimbursement once their first officer training is complete.

  • $12,000 signing bonus.
  • $3,000 bonus for RJ Type Rating,
  • $10,000 in bonuses if the company reaches pilot hiring targets,
  • $10,000 Pilot Referral Fee.

What’s the final answer is there a pilot shortage? There is a shortage at some airlines, and that hits them hardest when they have to cancel flights, for example, the recent pilot scheduling issue with American Airlines: BI Article.

It does seem that many recent developments are addressing the shortage. Expect more changes and in the meantime, get going on becoming a pilot! With all this in mind, it looks like it’s the best time to start your career is now!


*Cowen and Company Report.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *