AMERICAS: Critical US pilot shortage impending

The airline industry is looking to hire 65,000 pilots by 2012 — including 12,000 this year — but is fi ghting a slew of retirements, a dearth of new recruits and competition from overseas carriers and the US military, according to areport by the Washington Times. Commercial air travel has grown 8 per cent in […]


The airline industry is looking to hire 65,000 pilots by 2012 — including 12,000 this year — but is fi ghting a slew of retirements, a dearth of new recruits and competition from overseas carriers and the US military, according to areport by the Washington Times.

Commercial air travel has grown 8 per cent in the past fi ve years, from 683 million passengers per year in 2001 to 740 million in 2006, and the Federal Aviation Administration expects that number to jump to 1.2 billion passengers by 2020. The industry is concerned that there will be a void left when the current group of pilots is forced intomandatory retirement at age 60.

“I think that between 2010 and 2020 the pilot shortage is really going to be exacerbated with those retirements,” said Daniel Elwell, assistant administrator for the FAA. “There is a worldwide shortage looming,” Mr Elwell said. “We’re already seeing it in other countries. Japan can’t get pilots fast enough; [neither can] carriers in the Middle East, so they are hiring American pilots.”