Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The coming storm?

A's father sent us an article out of the Wall Street Journal the other day. He sent it old school- cut it out of the paper and snail mailed it to us. It was about the looming pilot shortage that is forecasted due to massive retirements and increased training requirements ( like total time needed prior to applying. There was a quote from Kit Darby, a former United pilot turned industry hiring authority, saying "we are six months away from a problem and four years away from a solution" or something to that effect.

That sounds like good news for those "forever FO's ( like A) who are waiting to upgrade and get on with a legacy or a major and those that are starting training now to get in on the boom. But I don't know if I really believe the situation is as dire as they predict. Right now there are thousands of pilots at regionals just waiting to get to a bigger plane. Plus there are plenty of pilots on the streets who are looking for jobs and can go to a major (most recently all those Comair pilots and many more regionals are teetering). That's a lot of pilot back up to work through. Airlines are also consolidating routes but also possibly changing their scope and taking back some flying from the regionals. So the regionals stand to be hit hardest when it is taking new pilots longer to meet training requirements except that they also stand to lose flying and need less pilots so perhaps it will all balance out. A's company is offering month to month leaves of absence to mitigate less flying that they are doing. They may be looking at furloughs again down the road. A came home with a rumor that the major he contracts with wants 70 seat jets their own. I guess I am just so jaded at this point that I will believe it when I see it and not a day before.

The other tidbit in the article was how graduates of ERAU could enter the industry with less total time. How is that? Don't they go through the exact same training and check rides to get their certificates as any pilot from any other school? Yes they may get supplemental instruction in meteorology or homeland security or airline administration, but how does that translate into better flying skills or flight training? I know, I know, it's all about the lobbying group in the end. But it just irritates me to presume that one path is better than another.

I guess we will see how it all shakes out in six months. But for now I remain a sceptic.


Amber said...

As the wide of a "forever FO", I'm with you. I'll believe all this when I see it. :)

Joanna said...

I am sceptical too!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree. Good luck to you and A. The price on a family for a major airline job is much higher than anyone but an aviation spouse can understand.