This Episode Features A Presentation By Captain Ronald Levy, University Aviation Association (Part 3 Of A Series)
We've been hearing about it for years... a pilot shortage... a critical one, at that. For many in the aviation community, it sounded like good news... at least if you were on the bottom rungs of the pilot hiring ladder and working desperately to climb your way up. However; after engaging in discussions thorough the industry over the last year and in attending a particularly pointed (and very well-organized) presentation at the FAA Forecast Conference some months ago, ANN and Aero-TV are left with the troubling impression that aviation has a BIG problem on its hands.
The session devoted to discussing the Pilot Supply was, as indicated earlier, exceptionally produced and wholly on target. The session was presented by Moderator Peter J. Wolfe, Executive Director, Professional Aviation Board of Certification (PABC), and augmented by presentations delivered by Kit Darby, President, AIR, Inc, Captain Paul Rice, First Vice President, Air Line Pilots Association, International, Ron Levy, University Aviation Association, John Dixon, Director of Pilot Recruitment for American Eagle.
The second presentation, and one that set quite a trend for the session, was delivered by Captain Ron Levy of the University Aviation Association. The UAA is a professional association and unifying voice for promoting and furthering aviation education as a collegiate academic discipline. Their mission is thus defined... "To promote and foster excellence in collegiate aviation education by providing a forum for students, faculty, staff and practitioners to share ideas, to enhance the quality of education, and to develop stronger programs and curricula. To influence aviation education policy at all governmental levels. To provide and nurture the linkage between college aviation education, the aviation industry, and government agencies."
Levy set quite a tone... He opined that, "There is no shortage of interested students," but went to decry the potential lack of proper instructors. Levy thinks that the recent changes to the 'Age 60 rule' has the potential to harm aero-collegiate programs since it will most likely prove to be more difficult to convince a recently 'retired' pilot, past the age of 65, to seek possible employment in this environment. Levy thinks that is more likely that a 60 year old pilot may look for additional work than a 65 year old. As to the kids coming up through the ranks, Levy doesn't see much hope from those ranks... "Recent grads don't want to be instructors." They want the airline jobs.
Levy also had some pessimistic things to say about the cost of aero-education. The cost of a 4-year university flight education is heading North of $120K-$180K. This is beyond the ability of most student's financial means and there are few, if any, institutions willing to finance that amount. Levy states that Government loans are generally limited to a total of about $25K, and that once out in the real world, the student loan debt load is wholly incompatible with the initial pay such students are likely to get from their first commercial flying jobs (most likely a commuter airline). This difficulty severely restricts the field of candidates, impacts diversity of those who participate and adds to a substantial dropout rate.
So... worried yet? You should be. The situation is troublesome, answers are few and aviation safety can only be negatively impacted if the situation is not dealt with. Not sure about that? Well... load up Part Three of our series on Understanding the Pilot Shortage and see if you don't agree that this is an issue that needs urgent attention.
Click Here To See the Aero-TV Special Series: Understanding The Pilot Shortage (Part 3)
E-I-C Note: This is the third in an extensive series on this topic... each of which will be presented every Monday (barring special programming requirements for breaking news or special event coverage) until completed...
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