Pilots and Students Weigh In on PIlot Shortage
November 19, 2013
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  • Last week in the Wichita Business Journal, I took a deep dive into the issue of a pilot shortage and its impact on the general aviation industry.

    The story has generated a lot of great feedback from readers.

    It’s an issue the industry has been talking about for a long time, but some say it can no longer be ignored.

    Dennis Murphy, an aviation safety inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration, wrote in to say that people have been talking about a pilot shortage for the entire 45 years he has been in the industry.

    “Right now it actually seems to be happening,” Murphy said. “The reason I believe it is real this time is because of the airline profession.”

    Murphy’s take was that a job flying for a major airline — once the dream of many student pilots — is not what it once was.

    Working conditions and pay are getting worse, he said, “and every pilot knows it.”

    With fewer people wanting to become pilots, fewer people spend time as a flight instructor, a common step on the path to working for an airline.

    That means fewer flight instructors available for prospective students, including those simply looking to get a private pilot’s certificate.

    Without the high-paying job of an airline pilot waiting at the other end, Murphy believes fewer and fewer people will want to get into the profession, which will only further crimp the already narrowing pilot pipeline.

    “If my son asked me about going into flying for a living, I’d tell him to look elsewhere,” Murphy said. “The bubble has burst. The glory days of aviation are gone.”

    But that doesn’t seem to be the only factor at play.