Thu, Dec 20, 2012
Suggested Topics Include Pilot Demand, Education Pipeline
Representatives from a group of aviation industry stakeholders recently proposed to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that it launch a study to gain a better understanding of pilot supply and demand and its potential effects on the U.S. aviation industry and the U.S. economy. The group suggested topics that the GAO would consider in this study.
"The overlying question has to be: Is there a pilot shortage on the horizon and if so, how severe could it be, how long will it last, what sector of the industry is affected first, how far is the outreach and what are the safety and economic impacts?" the proposal states.
The request, which was put forth by a group of 16 stakeholders across the spectrum of aviation, noted that, "the aviation industry is entering an era of unprecedented pilot staffing challenges as a result of a struggling economy, bankruptcies, mergers, increasing flight training costs, manufacturing declines and numerous new public laws and regulations. Similarly, the general aviation sector is seeing a continued decline in active pilots as well as new pilot starts and diminished interest in seeking aviation as a career or for pleasure.
"The entire aviation industry has weathered these and other major events in the past and yet has continued to offer the traveling public ever-safer air transport. Although the industry has been resilient, adaptable and proactive, and has successfully navigated these changes, it will be faced with a far more challenging situation in the near term: unprecedented pilot attrition rates coupled with diminished pilot availability caused by a decline of new entrants into the profession and a dramatic reduction in the availability of military trained pilots that have been a primary source of airline pilots since World War II.
"The impacts of a pilot shortage would cascade throughout all facets of aviation including general aviation as well as the airlines and the military. As the airlines hire the few qualified pilots available, a lack of pilots would severely impact corporate and charter operations of general aviation. Also, with few pilots choosing to enter the field of aviation as a career, universities and flight training providers will see a continued drop in enrollment. The industry will see less and less activity translating into less hours of instruction given and fewer aircraft sold."
"This discussion needs to be continued and expanded within the entire aviation industry," said National Association of Flight Instructors Executive Director Jason Blair. "The group that put this proposal together has been meeting on a regular basis to discuss pilot training and shortage issues. Its broad representation offers a strong knowledge base that the industry can work with and help craft solutions for the success of the entire aviation industry." The stakeholder group that worked on this proposal includes representatives from airlines, regional airlines, manufacturers, general aviation associations and flight training providers.
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