Another pilot shortage could be near post COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Mar. 10, 2021 at 6:05 PM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Are you looking for a job? Becoming a pilot might be a good place to start.

A new study shows by the middle of the decade there could be a shortage of 50,000 pilots worldwide.

If you’re looking for a career change or just starting college, you may want to look high in the sky for your next opportunity.

“I see it as job security,” said Ken Jackson, Director of Aviation at Southeast Missouri State University

For Jackson, he is looking at the on-going pilot shortage in a positive way.

“There is a shortage of pilots and by the time students enroll in the program and accumulate the flight hours and earn the necessary license and ratings, then there will be a pathway for those students to transition into the airlines,” he said.

A new study by consulting firm Oliver Wyman shows by 2025 there could be a shortage of at least 34,000 pilots, but it could be as high as 50,000.

The study points the shortage to early retirements, fewer pilots leaving the military and the cost of training.

Jackson said this is concerning to the airline industry, to the point where they are already recruiting high schoolers.

“The airline industry and others has actually produced over the last few years a four-year high school curriculum in aviation. It’s called ‘you can fly high school aviation curriculum,” he said.

At the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport where you could take off, Airport Manager Katrina Amos said programs like what SEMO offers could help.

“Programs such as the SEMO pilot program, you are going to start seeing more of that because that’s a need in the industry, so having more programs like that, that is feeding pilots into the aviation industry will help a great deal,” she said.

Getting your pilots license isn’t cheap. You need to pay for flight time and fuel plus the classes, but once you finish first year pilots can make over $30,000, and experienced pilots can make up to $200,000 when flying for delivery services.

Amos said it’s unlikely the Cape airport will experience any issues due to the shortage, but they are mindful of what’s going on.

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