LUBBOCK, Texas–Airlines across the country warn travelers about flight delays and cancellations over the next few months. The industry has faced a series of challenges over the last couple of years and their latest concern is a massive shortage of pilots.
Hub City Aviation Academy’s instructor Will Strieder said that the staff shortages have been a growing problem for the last few years. Not to mention the increased Federal Aviation Administration requirements and standards that have raised the bar for incoming students.
“We had sort of several, I guess we’ll call them Capstone events. We had the 911 event, where we lost a whole generation of pilots,” Strieder said, “because the airlines were pretty much shut down, and who wants to go into a profession where there are no jobs? And then we also had several high profile accidents – one was where we had a high profile accident where the pilots took off on the wrong runway. So, the FAA changed the rules to become an airline pilot for up to 1500 hours. So, the training requirements have increased quite a bit.”
The required flight hours, instruction cost, and years of study hasn’t disturaged students like Hub City Aviation Academy student Yousef Alhar. Alhar followed his dream to learn how to fly all the way to West Texas.
“Once you are an official pilot and you control the airplane– It’s really something amazing,” Alhar said. “You control something that’s not always on the ground, but you control something that’s going through the air and the clouds.”
Strieder said aspiring pilots like Alhar have bright futures ahead of them because many airlines have increased pilots’ average salaries and now offer sign-on bonuses.
“The good news is that 5 years [to] 10 years ago, the entry pay for pilots was really pretty grim,” Strieder said, “but now because of the shortage entry pays starts at about $50,000 For most pilots…So, you’re able to pay your loan off pretty quickly.”