In October 2018, we published an article titled “Why Now is a Great Time to Become a Commercial Pilot.” In that article, we focused on the state of the industry from mostly a logistics perspective. There were not enough pilots to fly airplanes, and we had record airplane sales. Both of these factors led to the perfect storm of aircraft being parked. Airlines had to become creative with schedules and compensation for their flight crews.
Fast forward to 2020 and the global COVID-19 pandemic. Never before in modern times have we had a pandemic that affected every country in the world. Air travel was all but stopped because of fears of spreading the virus. Once again, we found airliners parked and active flight crews grounded. The only part of our industry that was not affected was the cargo carriers and the U.S. general aviation community.
So here we are, approaching 2022, trying to figure out what the aviation industry will look like once again. We know the airplanes are available and parked. We also know that, for the most part, very few airlines did anything to build up their flight crew ranks. As flight schedules in the United States return in full force, we once again find ourselves with canceled or delayed flights because there aren’t enough pilots to fly the airplanes. The rest of the world is still on some sort of a lockdown, so their flight schedule demands have not even begun to approach those of the U.S.
As it always does, the aviation industry finds its equilibrium. This time, what is different is that the general aviation industry never slowed down. Flight training, charters, and personal airplane sales all increased during the pandemic as people discovered these to be suitable alternative means of travel. All of the flight instructors that have been working over the last two years are already at or close to their ATP minimums which means that they are ready for the airlines as soon as they are called. Unfortunately, this will probably take away most of the experienced flight instructors from the schools. It will also give more opportunities to newer instructors coming into those schools. In theory, this may sound like good news for the airlines. In reality, it will only provide them with a small fraction of the pilots that they need.
To make things more challenging for the airlines, many of these younger pilots starting their careers have seen what happened during the initial stages of the pandemic. As a result, many of them are reassessing their career goals and opting to pursue flight careers with corporations and charter companies.
It is important to remember that airlines make up about 10% of the aviation industry. For the first time in modern history, pilots recognize the career opportunities available to them in the other 90% of the industry. They are finding competitive pay, quicker upgrades, a better variety of equipment, and more challenging flight plans. They are also finding an increase in career stability.
This by no means is meant to infer that airline careers are fading away. This means that other areas of the industry have had to become more competitive with the airlines, and they have had to step up and do a better job articulating their
benefits and career opportunities.
So when we say that “Now is an Even Better Time to Become a Commercial Pilot,” we say this because there are more opportunities now than ever before. All you have to do is start your training, and we will help you with the rest.