Pilots And The Future Aviation Market Conditions: The ‘Perfect’ Storm

It is now a fact that the supply of experienced pilots will reduce substantially for both the commercial and general aviation (GA) sectors over the next decade.

Lack of investment in training by the industry, self funded training with poor returns for potential pilots, the pilot retirement bubble, changes in commercial pilot regulations, military downsizing with focus on pilot retention are just some of the factors creating a ‘perfect storm’ in the aviation market for the supply of suitable pilots. The storm coincides with a significant rise in international demand that has required all operators to consider alternate methods of obtaining the experienced pilots with skill sets needed to fly ever more sophisticated private jets safely and securely around the world.

Historically GA has lost pilots to commercial operators when the commercial sector has been recruiting. With the commercial sector recruiting so heavily now, with a diminishing source of pilots, GA will find it increasingly difficult to crew aircraft. This is at a time when the business aviation forecasters predict that approximately 9,250 new business jets worth over $260 billion will be delivered from now until 2022 with the trend toward larger jets with extended range capability.

The big question for all operators is ‘are there enough pilots?’ The answer is simple, NO.

It takes at least two years to train a pilot to the minimum standards required by most regulators and another 5 to 10 years for those pilots to gain the experience required to command a modern jet aircraft. There are simply not enough pilots in the system to cover the foreseen gaps of retirements in, and expansion of, airline and GA operators. It is this one fact that will limit the expansion plans of operators and sales of all aircraft types for the next 10 to 20 years.