Pilot Shortage Questions

My name is Noah, I am a senior in High School. I am doing a capstone project for my leadership class, which involves writing a research paper. I am writing a research paper on the pilot shortage and would like to ask you some questions I have, which will be included in my research paper.

  1. Are you aware of the pilot shortage? If so, do you feel affected?
  2. What are some reasons on why there might be a pilot shortage?
  3. What are some good and bad things about becoming a pilot?
  4. What’s your favorite thing to do as a pilot?
  5. How long does it take to become a pilot?

Hi Noah,

Lots of questions, let’s see if we can help:

  1. If you’re a pilot on this planet you’re aware of the shortage, you can’t not be. For me as someone as been flying for many years it’s affected me directly by my pilot group getting the largest raises in the history of the airline. That’s a positive. What’s not so positive is the demand for pilots has gotten so great that pilots have been advancing very quickly. While this may appear to be a good thing the experience level has declined. While I haven’t flown with any pilots I’d consider unsafe, they do require much more mentoring than in the past.

  2. The 3 main reasons for the pilot shortage are: a) the increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65, b) the Aviation Safety Act (aka the 1500hr Rule) and c) FAR Part 117 Duty and Rest Requirements. These 3 regulatory changes all happened within a few years of each other causing a “Perfect Storm” in the industry. In the part you could fly for an airline with just a Commercial Pilot license which only requires 250hrs. While this is a very low number and most pilots had to have much more hours it gave the airlines flexibility in their hiring. Now the minimum is 1500hrs which takes a considerable amount of time to build. The new rest regs simply required pilots to have more rest which in turn requires more pilots to cover. Finally by pushing the retirement age into this period with new regs all the delayed retirements hit when the other 2 factors did as well.

  3. Personally I love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else. The only downside I hear from most pilots is time away from home and family and the fact that until you build seniority you have little control over your schedule. There also are few guarantees that you’ll be successful (which for most pilots means making it to a Major). Most do but some don’t but I believe that’s true of many professions.

  4. That’s easy. Arrive at new destinations in an airplane YOU flew yourself! While every loves to travel and people dream of flying to say Beijing China or Sydney Australia, it’s a very different level when YOU’RE the pilot flying the plane the first time you ever go. VERY cool! I also have to say to this day when I see a plane flying overhead I still think to myself (in amazement) “I do that!”.

  5. When you say “become a pilot” that can have many different meanings. You could become a Private pilot and fly your family and friend in a month. Want to get paid to fly that means you need your Commercial license which you can earn in about 9mos. BUT if you want to be an airline pilot (which I think is what you’re asking?) that means the 9mos of training PLUS about 2yrs building time to reach that magic 1500hrs and that of course is on top of your 4yr degree in whatever that you’ll need to fly for a Major.

Hope that helps.



Thank you very much Mr. Adam, your answers have really helped because, not only because of my project, but because I am Interested in becoming a pilot!

Let’s get to your questions.

  1. I am well aware of the pilot shortage, it is very evident in the recruiting practices of the regional airlines and the increased pay that has come with the shortage. I should note that the shortage is mostly felt at the regional airline level and has not yet affected the major airlines.

  2. For decades the regional airline industry under-paid their pilots, sometimes with really poor wages. Over time, that led to decreased interest in the job and thus less pilots starting flight training. Now pay has gone up dramatically, but it takes many years to alter perceptions and to train new pilots. Also, pilots used to be able to be hired at an airline with as little as 250 hours. After the crash of Colgan 3407, the Congress and FAA mandated that airline pilots have 1,500 hours of flight time before they could fly. This large increase led to longer production times for new pilots.

  3. These lists could go on forever, but:

Good: high compensation packages, great benefits, see the world, lots of autonomy, a large amount of time off.

Bad: a lot of time on the road, high costs of entry into the field (flight training). That is really all I can think of as I like my job :slight_smile:

  1. I enjoy flying to the west coast. The scenery over California is amazing. I also enjoy flights over the Rockies and Grand Canyon.

  2. Roughly two years, but some people spend much longer.


Thank you very much Mr. Chris!

Hi Chris,
May I ask what airline you fly for?

I fly for United.

United. Take a look at the biographies section.