Pilot Shortage Logjam


I was wondering about the pilot shortage. With all of the retirements and all of the hiring going on at the majors will that eventually create a logjam at the majors. With all of these young pilots being hired and the older pilots retiring im just wondering if these pilots now will be in the captain position for a long time and anyone coming in after them will be stuck in the FO position. I’m just about to start my flight traning and will be done in about 4 and am trying to figure out what the airlines will be like when I get there.



It is really impossible to predict what things will look like in even a few years. Plus, every airline has a different average age of pilots and hire new pilots of all ages. Keep in mind though that pilots turn 65 and retire everyday, so there will always be movement. I wouldn’t worry about this one.



I’m going to disagree with Chris here. While none of us have crystal balls sure there’s a chance things could slow down some at various points in the future. Even now we’ve had recent posts stating hiring has slowed “slightly” to allow some Regionals to catch up a little. This is aviation and it’s the way it’s always been, there are ebbs and tides. While this is arguably the best time there’s ever been in commercial aviation inevitably there will be periods of stagnation.

Does that discourage you or give you pause? If so you may want to give this some more thought? I feel many people these days believe that everything in this career is a given. You’ll train, get hired, upgrade, move on to a Major, get some grey on the side to look more distinguished, then retire with 2.5 kids a house and a dog. Aviation (and life in general) seldom works this way. What if you were stuck as an FO for 5yrs or more? Would that be so terrible? I think we have the best job on the planet regardless of which seat I’m sitting in but that’s me. Again if possible hiccups give you pause then perhaps you should look at government jobs with more stability?



From my opinion (as little as it’s worth) :thinking:,

I agree with Adam, if you don’t love what you’re doing, then why bother doing it? Every job has its perks and its shortcomings, however, if you love flying the shortcomings seem minuscule. I’m a bit of a romantic and having a office that has the best views in the world, plus I get to be responsible for flying a multi-million dollar aircraft. How much better can it get?

You will hear from the mentors often (especially Adam) that not everyone who thinks they can be a pilot, should be a pilot. More money is always good and those upgrades and seniority can help with QOL, but you should be satisfied with just being able to be a pilot, most importantly an airline pilot! :grin:

Rephrasing what Adam said, 3 Bars or 4 Bars on your shoulder shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If you love flying, that should be all that you need.



Good question, but you should be fine. Eventually, yes. We will most likely see a stagnation, but not in the next 4 years. Here’s why.

Before I explain my reasoning, I just want to make a statement for everyone that is considering a career in aviation. Brock, this is not directed towards you specifically. You said that you have already made a decision to begin training, but it’s still related to your question.

What I want to say is, as Adam said, if the imminent end of the pilot shortage influences you to not pursue a career in aviation, you need to reevaluate your motives. Yes, it should be something to consider, but not something that prevents you from trying. When hiring slows, it forces pilots to gain more experience before they are competitive enough to be hired at an airline.

Now, to answer your question, history has shown us that the airline industry is cyclical. Right now, were are at the crest of the highest demand for pilots that the industry has ever seen. Additionally, the shortage is predicted to continue for a minimum of two decades. That said, your concern is premature. CNN just posted an article about the pilot shortage. The stats that they shared are worth noting.

The takeaway from this should be, prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and keep your expectations realistic.


This definitely isn’t a deal breaker for me. It’s just something that’s been on my mind. Obviously I want to be a captain at a legacy airline. That’s the dream, but if I never get past FO that is in no way a deal breaker. I couldn’t imagine myself in any other career.

Like I said in my post above, I was not under the impression that you were on the fence. I could tell that you were just getting a feel for what it will be like in the next few years. Honestly, no one REALLY knows. We can read all of the charts and stats and studies we want. Even if the estimates come true, everyone has a different experience. I am learning that more and more. I recently upgraded to captain. So, I am learning more about the experiences my first officers have endured. It’s all over the place. At least they all have positive attitudes (for the most part). I think that’s the key. Know that anything can happen regardless of what SHOULD happen.


Another thing I forgot to mention is that a lot of pilots have side jobs. That is one of the benefits of being an airline pilot. Pilots have enough time off to maintain a second income which is another way you can prepare for the worst.


Is there a new CNN article? Only one I can find is from 2017, but the shortage is definitely still real, and will only get worse (or better, depending on your perspective) over the next few years.


You’re right. The article I shared was from 2017. I don’t think much has changed since then. Here’s another article from last year:


@Adam will HAL be affected by the pilot shortage? Most of what I’ve read is about American, Delta, United, and the regionals. I know HAL doesn’t hire as many pilots and I’m curious if HAL will be affected by the shortage or not.


The shortage may eventually reach Hawaiian but as you say we’re relatively small carrier and there seems to be a steady stream of qualified applicants.


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