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.
taking several actions to attract and retain qualified
commercial airline pilots. For example, airlines that
GAO interviewed have increased recruiting efforts, and
developed partnerships with schools to provide
incentives and clearer career paths for new pilots.
Some regional airlines have offered new first officers
signing bonuses or tuition reimbursement to attract more
pilots. However, some airlines found these actions
insufficient to attract more pilots, and some actions,
such as raising wages, have associated costs that have
implications for the industry.
representatives and pilot schools suggested FAA could do
more to give credit for various kinds of flight
experience in order to meet the higher flight-hour
requirement, and could consider developing alternative
pathways to becoming an airline pilot. Stakeholders were
also concerned that available financial assistance may
not be sufficient, given the high costs of pilot
training and relatively low entry-level wages.
Over 66,000 airline pilot jobs exist for larger mainline
and smaller regional airlines that operate over 7,000
commercial aircraft. After a decade of turmoil that
curtailed growth in the industry and resulted in fewer
pilots employed at airlines since 2000, recent industry
forecasts indicate that the global aviation industry is
poised for growth.
However, stakeholders have
voiced concerns that imminent retirements, fewer pilots
exiting the military, and new rules increasing the
number of flight hours required to become a first
officer for an airline, could result in a shortage of
qualified airline pilots.
GAO was asked to examine pilot supply and demand issues.
This report describes (1) what available data and
forecasts reveal about the need for and potential
availability of airline pilots and (2) what actions
industry and government are taking or could take to
attract and retain airline pilots.
The GAO collected and analyzed data from 2000 through
2012, forecasts from 2013 through 2022, and literature
relevant to the labor market for airline pilots and
reviewed documents and interviewed agency officials
about programs that support training.
interviewed and collected data from associations
representing airlines or their pilots, and pilot schools
that accounted for about half of the students who
graduated with professional pilot majors in 2012. GAO
selected the airlines and schools based on factors such
as size and location.