Tuition Costs, New Regs Contribute to Looming Pilot Shortage
Delayed and cancelled flights are bad enough, but now experts say the U.S. is looking at a nationwide pilot shortage.
They say the airlines are on track to see the worst shortage in pilots since the 1960s. Mike Suckow is Director of Air Operations for Purdue University's Aviation Technology Program. He's among experts who are calling it the "perfect storm." They cite several reasons: more pilots are approaching retirement age with fewer to replace them, a change in federal aviation rules that will soon require pilot-trainees to have more flight hours, commercial growth in Asia and a big spike in the cost of flight training.
Suckow says many students are discouraged by the scenario. He says students these days face tuition costs of $25,000 a year and that does not include the $50,000 cost of flight training. Suckow says the average starting salary for pilots is $25,000 a year and the figure rises to about $40,000 annually. He says many top pilots make in excess of $200k, but that's after many years on the job. Suckow also says ongoing labor issues between pilots and airlines aren't helping the situation.