Pilot Shortage Problems

Oct. 12, 2016

Well, it seems that we finally — after all these decades of prediction — have a real, bona fide pilot shortage on our hands (see the October issue of Airport Business for more info). It was created in great part because the govment raised training requirements for smaller airlines. The immediate demand for airline pilots is hard to meet. The airlines are hiring the ones who qualify and that tends to pull pilots from general aviation piloting jobs.

I’m not complaining about any of this, but just recognizing the problems.

I wonder if we are — or should be — looking more closely at airline company management as well as at airline pilots. Certainly there are economic dis-incentives to spending more money on pilot training.

To tell the truth, I personally now wonder a bit when I buy a ticket on Delta, or other main airline — then find that the short legs of my trips are “operated by” a company with which I am not so familiar. I go, but don’t feel quite as comfortable as I would be on the larger, more experienced, airline. Do you?

What’s the solution? I don’t know, but something must and will be done. Passengers can read/see just so many negative stories about those “little” airliners before they draw a line in the sand. (I recently heard one of those stories. The lady told her friends about the little tiny airplane and how scared she was. By the time she finished I was a bit horrified myself. Then I found out she was talking about turbine powered prop plane that I don’t consider “little tiny” at all. “Little tiny” is a Cessna 150 or Champ, for crying out loud.

In addition to the real safety changes, maybe we should do some more educating of the public about these “little tiny” aircraft.

I still can’t forget the story I read somewhere in the 1980s about the man who was picked up by a little tiny airplane. It was a top-drawer corporate jet. He said it looked like a toy airplane.