Pilot shortage impacts air travel

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:54 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Like a number of other industries, the airlines are facing a worker shortage. This one concerns pilots. It has been building for some time. It won’t be over soon and will affect us all.

The shortage has complex roots, but industry insiders point to two reasons: the FAA’s mandatory retirement age of 65 for commercial pilots and increased experience requirements.

Among the changes made following a 2009 crash in upstate New York, was to increase the minimum flying hours for certification for an airline pilot. Filling the experience gap between 250 hours for certification for a commercial license, to 1,500 hours for airline transport, takes time and money. Some in the industry point to the 1,500 hour requirement as a big reason for the shortage.

“So, not only do we have people going out of the system, we’ve now raised the difficulty of getting into the system,” says Richard Brong of Reno’s Great Basin Aviation. “And, of course, consumer demand has gone crazy.”

Brong says some adjustment to the certification process, perhaps more frequent monitoring of students’ progress, could be part of a solution.

In the meantime, more pilots are leaving the profession than entering it, and though the general public has been mostly unaware of the trend, they will experience its impacts in more delays, cancelled flights and reduced service to some areas.

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