While regional airlines may be experiencing a shortage in airline pilots, on an overall basis, “demand for these occupations has not outstripped supply,” according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.
The GAO’s findings suggest that industry worries about a pilot shortage for U.S. airlines have been overblown. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry will need somewhere between 1,900 pilots and 4,500 pilots each year for the next 10 years.
The GAO’s investigation found conflicting case studies regarding this dilemma. While two studies found that there was an “adequate” supply of pilots, a third report found that unless airlines and pilot training schools take immediate actions, U.S. airlines will have a hard time finding enough pilots to satisfy demand. The agency talked with officials at pilot schools who said enrollment is down because of low starting pay for pilots.
“As airlines have recently started hiring, nearly all of the regional airlines that GAO interviewed reported difficulties finding sufficient numbers of qualified entry-level first officers,” the agency said. “However, mainline airlines, because they hire from the ranks of experienced pilots, have not reported similar concerns, although some mainline airlines expressed concerns that entry-level hiring problems could affect their regional airline partners' ability to provide service to some locations.”