BOUNTIFUL (News4Utah) – As summer travel seasons winds down, airlines are still faced with the problem of the nationwide pilot shortage. Hoping to bring in more students, Bountiful Flight School is providing incentives for aspiring pilots.
“One of the biggest ages of aviation was in the 1970s. That’s when one of the biggest growth times happened. With all the baby boomers starting aviation at the same time and now retiring over a 17-year period, that’s a lot of pilots,” said Clark.
Clark said the influx of retiring pilots leaves airlines scrambling to keep up with the demand, a shortage which could stretch out over the next 15 years. He said the current shortage in North America is at 127,000 pilots. For travelers, pilot shortage means less flight availability and increased airfare.
“With this rush that’s coming up, it’s going to be unprecedented. It’s going to be one of the biggest rushes of pilots that are ever needed in history,” said Clark.
Kaden Roark, a former student turned instructor is 1,000 hours away from becoming a commercially-licensed pilot. He said it’s understandable why there’s a pilot shortage because aviation school can be difficult and expensive.
“It’s a 4-year degree going through all the different ratings and stuff. It’s 8 hours a day worth of flying and studying, just pounding the books and getting as many hours as you can in,” said Roark. “It definitely takes the right kind of person to be a pilot. You have to have the right kind of attitude, intelligence, and motivation to get done.”
Clark expressed concern that there might not enough planes for aviation students to complete their requirement of 1,500 flight time.
“According to study done by AOPA, there’s 215,000 general aviation aircrafts in the U.S. right now. If you divide that by 1,500 hours each pilot, that’s almost 1,000 hours per general aviation aircraft out there,” said Clark. “The number of aircrafts needed over the next 17 years would need to increase to a staggering amount in order to supplement the pilots’ training to get them to the airlines.”
In the meantime, Clark hopes his school’s incentives can at least solve part of the problem. Bountiful Flight School offers tuition reimbursement and job security with SkyWest after graduation.
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