Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Concerns Over Future Potential Pilot Shortage

(ABC 6 NEWS) – Across the country, many smaller airports like the Rochester International Airport have some concern about the number of pilots in years to come.

After a deadly plane crash in 2009, legislation passed to increase the number of training hours from around 300 to 1,500 before a pilot can fly a commercial aircraft.

“It’s a number that grew by six fold and has had a profound effect on the number of young people who are choosing a commercial airline pilot as a career,” said William Swelbar.

Swelbar is the executive vice president for InterVISTAS Consulting LLC, an economic and financial firm in the airport industry. He says the high amount of training hours have scared away pilots who may have been interested in the industry.

“By my estimation, 150 to 200 communities are at risk of seeing a total or a near total loss of their commercial air service because of their unresolved industry issues like the pilot supply issue,” added Swelbar.

It’s estimated in year 2022 that more than 17,000 commercial airline pilots will retire. Right now the same number of pilots fly smaller planes for regional airlines like at the Rochester International Airport and its projected they will take their jobs.

“Really what it’s done is magnified some existing labor issues as it relates to just producing enough pilots to go to work for airlines,” said Executive Director of the Rochester International Airport, John Reed.

Swelbar says with low oil prices if there were pilots many more flights would be available. He says the industry needs to do something to attract more people to the industry before it’s too late.

“You can make the case that the regional industry as we know it today could be but 20 percent of its size in 2022 unless we do something to fill this pipeline,” added Swelbar.

Story and video:   http://www.kaaltv.com

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