Pilot shortage question

So here’s a question: this pilot shortage everyone is talking about…

Who is hurting the most? Regionals or mainline? Or are they both struggling to find pilots?

Thanks guys!


Regionals are hurting. Mainlines are not hurting whatsoever since they, with very few exceptions like older, experienced military pilots, get their pilots from the regionals.

With that said, when they take a pilot from their regionals and regional partners, they are essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul. Regional airline takeoff and landings account for nearly half of all scheduled takeoff and landings for commercial air travel. If they take from the regionals, that is one less pilot who will be able to fly under their regional brand and feed their mainline operations. Mainlines must then decided which route from their regionals they must end.


Regionals without a question. The fact is there are thousands of qualified Regional pilots all chomping at the bit to get called up to the Majors. These Regional pilots are already qualified airline pilots and there’s an active pool of them ready to go.

The Regionals first need to wait for all the flight instructors out there to build the required 1500 and that takes time. Further they have to hope they can pass training which some do not.


I did a little Math on this…
There are currently 21,790 pilots working for the range of Regionals listed on AirlinePilotCentral, and 66,390 for the Majors and Legacies.

The Majors and Legacies are due to lose 26,196 pilots to Mandatory retirement between 2020 and 2030…c.4,400 more pilot than all the Regionals combined.

There needs to be a strong pipeline to feed the Regionals over this 11 year period where some of the Majors will be turning over more than 50% of their pool of qualified pilots.

It’s a great time to get into Aviation!

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The majors are not hurting at all, there are many thousands of regional pilots who would love to have a job at a major airline. The regionals are currently hurting pretty badly, although I have heard a rumor in a slight let up of the shortage. Either way though, the lot shortage will continue to be felt at the regional level for many years to come.


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Very interesting stats Simon, never seen these before… so exciting for all of us students!

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Its not just the airlines that are hurting. Federal agencies and military alike are hurting for pilots as well. Air and Marine Operations for Customs and Border Protection is a small unit in the grand scheme of the Department of Homeland Security (~1,500 personnel not including pilots) and they are hurting for pilots.

Here’s a good article about some of the main reasons contributing to the shortage.

Good post. I remember reading this article awhile back and it having some good information in it, but nowadays its a little dated as some of the numbers and information changed (again, not by much). Purdue and UND passed Riddle in the list of the top aviation universities in 2019. Now its obvious there is a shortage in commercial and military aviation but they are in different ways. Its funny you posted this now because I was just talking to one of my friends who is a Marine fighter pilot about this about two days ago. In the airlines, the shortage is upfront with the regionals suffering as the majors continue to pull pilots up from them to fill in their gaps and regionals waiting for pilots in training to get all of their ratings and build their hours to ATP mins. So as the majors just fill their gaps by calling up, interviewing, and training experienced airline pilots from the regionals, the regional carriers have to wait 2-2.5 years to even consider hiring a candidate. On the military side, even though the pipeline maybe drying up a little bit, there are still plenty of candidates for the military to train. The military has more of a retention problem because most of the pilots are doing their 8-10 (more like 10-12 if you include pilot training) and bailing for the airlines. Marine pilots can earn between $75,000 to $280,000 bonuses depending on contract length and years of commissioned service. It says something when major airline pilots make around and even more a year than this bonus which takes 8 years to accumulate. Just my two pennies.