US Airline Pilot Association Launches Webpage To Share Thoughts on Pilot Shortage

11th May 2022

ALPA’s Insights on Pilot Shortage and Recommendations on Sustaining Robust Pilot Pipeline

US based Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) shared insights and recommendations on Sustaining a Robust Pilot Pipeline in its recent article entitled “More Than Enough Pilots to Meet U.S. Airline Demand”.

“Over the past eight years, the United States has produced more than enough certificated pilots to meet airline hiring demands and compensate for retirements, even as new and more rigorous pilot training standards were enacted to enhance safety. In fact, there are currently about 1.5 certificated pilots relative to demand, according to Federal Aviation Administration and Bureau of Labor Statistics data,” the association said. It also cited the following statements from airlines executives quashing pilot shortage.

  • “We are not having any problem at all at Delta hiring and getting great pools of candidates, ” said Ed Bastian, Delta Chief Executive Officer on January 13, 2022.
  • “We’re going to have plenty of pilots. The biggest issue that we’re dealing with is the throughput of pilots and getting them through training,” said Robert Isom, American President and Incoming Chief Executive Officer on January 20, 2022.
  • “I think we’ll have plenty of access to pilots and flight attendants. So I feel good that our staffing plan is going to come to fruition. And then the question just is, as we bring the people on and we mitigate the premium pay, we mitigate some of the regular operations, we run a more stable operation, can we—will we see different behaviors? And if we do, that gives us upside, ” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Chairman and Chief Executive Officer on January 20, 2022.

To save jobs within the airline industry, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal government provided subsidies and financial assistance to airlines. Three huge financial support were provided totaling to $63 billion. “Congress passed the Payroll Support Program, which kept thousands of pilots and other aviation workers on the job and off unemployment. This helped keep the U.S. economy going, global supply chains open, and critical medical personnel and equipment moving to fight COVID-19. It also positioned the aviation industry to be ready for recovery,” said ALPA.

On Training and Safety

ALPA emphasized its full support to the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 otherwise known as the 1,500-hour rule. While companies tend to ask for Congress support to reduced the minimum flight hours requirement to become an airline pilot, ALPA asserts that such flight hour rule plays a crucial role in reducing accidents. “[…] since the law’s enactment, Part 121 passenger airline fatalities have decreased by 99.8 percent,” ALPA wrote.

“Looking at the numbers, data shows that airlines make operational decisions based on the profitability of each route. Past practice proves that if you pay airline pilots commensurate with their training and experience, not only will you get qualified candidates but also a robust pipeline of future aviators.

Regulations that enhance safety and that have led to the U.S. aviation system’s exemplary safety record should never be used as the scapegoat for profit and should be untouchable by special interests. ALPA will defend against any action that would erode airline safety standards.”

ALPA’s Recommendations to Maintain a Robust Pilot Pipeline

  • Invest in putting more pilots in the U.S. pipeline with several incentives, including helping students pay for expensive flight training costs, subsidizing loans for flight training in conjunction with two-year and four-year aviation colleges and universities; and exempting students from paying interest on loans while in school.
  • Align federal funding to bring pilot academic education and training to the level of other highly skilled professions.
  • Provide substantial grants to expand aviation and flight degree programs.
  • Increasing the number of students who graduate from a certified two- or four-year aviation program who obtain the license needed to become an airline pilot.
  • Increase awareness of aviation job opportunities with today’s emerging workforce, including the support and mentorship they need to enter the profession with confidence.
  • Recruit a more diverse workforce, providing role models to ensure minorities and women can see themselves as the airline pilot workforce of the future.
  • Increase Title IV funding for hiring professional pilot graduates from colleges and universities that serve underrepresented communities, such as the historically black colleges and universities.
  • Provide substantial grants to minority-serving educational institutions to start aviation programs that serve underrepresented communities and introduce them to aviation experiences.

Source: ALPA

For more information, kindly contact ALPA.

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