Training, Tax Credits Among Ideas to Solve Pilot Crisis. That’s the title of the article in the WSJ. The story is the same as the one doctors are going through. Here are the highlights if you can’t read it:
- A looming U.S. airline pilot shortage is prompting novel proposals for expanding participation in flight-training programs.
- Both government and industry officials recently have emphasized the need to find new, long-term ways to increase the flow of would-be pilots.
- Expanding the pipeline of pilots “is not a future problem; it is upon us now.”
- Some proponents want to see low-interest loans or various other federal subsidies go to fledgling aviators at flight schools or academic institutions.
- Others advocate scholarships or loan guarantees provided by prospective employers.
- Enrollment has been declining for years in private flight schools, where students can spend up to $150,000 to train to the point where they become eligible for commercial flying jobs. Under the current training system, young pilots typically pay for most of their own training.
- Once they get their first airline job, starting pay often is under $25,000 a year. “The profession is not as attractive today as it once was,” Rob Burke, an FAA training official, told an international meeting this past summer.
- Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa runs its own basic training program, turning candidates without any flying experience into newly minted co-pilots in less than two years.
- Many of the new Chinese aviators sitting behind the controls of big passenger jets have substantially less than the congressionally imposed 1,500 hours of minimum flight time confronting U.S. pilots.
So what is going to be the industry’s fix for the pilot shortage? Isn’t it obvious? They need to create a new mid-level position. Let’s call it, I don’t know, a Pilot Assistant or a Flight Practitioner. These pilot extenders would help curtail the shortage by flying smaller plans in rural areas of the country. They would have less education and less training but the public is convinced that it would be the only away to fix the problem. Besides, they wouldn’t be allowed to fly on their own. They also would not be used to fly large commercial planes where there are plenty of pilots…..at least for a few years. Then they would only be working with the pilot as a team member and in no way meant to replace the pilot. That is until the Pilot Assistant Association and Flight Practitioner Organization lobby enough to change the legislation and……
You can finish the story.