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ALPA Says Plenty of Pilots In-Stock, No Need for More

Airline Hiring Slows to a Crawl, and With Plenty of ATPs on the Shelves There's Need for Retirement Increases

The Air Line Pilots Association says they have plenty of pilots, so there's no need to change anything about the aviation system from top to bottom.

They publicized the fact that "the United States continues to certify more airline pilots each month than in the years prior to COVID-19", noting that the last 12 months have seen more than 11,000 ATP-MEL ratings issued. Their intent is to support their stance to retain the current Part 121 mandatory retirement age of 65 years, which has been floated to see an increase to 67 in light of staffing issues as generational attrition draws away captains en masse. It's a little strange to see a union that ostensibly represents its workers campaign for less time to spend at the peak earning years of their career, but ALPA swears up and down that it's about safety, citing the record of the industry over the last decade and change. Since bolstering hourly requirements for Part 121 pilots in the wake of the Colgan Air crash, the industry has thankfully had a pretty good run of mass-fatality-free operations. Of course, that omits the many distressingly close calls that have been enjoyed in that same span, but only the body count really matters, and "0" is vastly different from "not zero".

Where ALPA does do its job is in trying to pump the brakes on more pilots entering the workforce, devaluing the efforts of certificated aviators already in the system. They say there's plenty of labor to draw from, citing those 11,000 ATPs, adding that "financial analysts are reporting that "demand is fulfilled," there is "a surplus of airline pilots," and several U.S. airlines have scaled back pilot hiring."

ALPA adds that "Despite continued data to the contrary, corporate special interests continue to push the narrative that the United States lacks enough pilots. ALPA has long maintained that while there were some pilot training backlogs coming out of COVID, the system is working and still producing record numbers of pilots. Passenger demand continues to be strong, and while mainline airline hiring has stabilized, resulting in a reduction of new pilots being hired, flight schools continue to have record enrollment."

"The system is working as intended, we're producing more than enough pilots, and we're experiencing the safest period in U.S. aviation history, thanks in large part to the highly trained pilots on every flight. However, all stakeholders have an obligation to remain vigilant and play an active role in the operations of the most complex aviation system on the planet."



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