Pilot shortage could lead to canceled flights and higher ticket prices

Recent studies predict a pilot shortage. In fact, studies show a pilot shortage of 14,000 by 2026.

Posted: Jul. 10, 2018 7:33 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Recent studies predict a pilot shortage. In fact, studies show a pilot shortage of 14,000 by 2026. 

When major airlines need new pilots, they look to regional airports to fill the shoes. But, it is a very hard task, when the number who want to fly the smaller planes is going down.

Chase Stanton is 23-years-old. He says he has loved to fly since he was young.

"The views," Stanton said. "Just getting to get up above everything and kind of leave everything that is troubling you on the ground. You just get away from the world for a little bit."

Stanton has been flying for more than three years. He has already been recruited by one regional airline.

"The pay is absolutely going to increase," he said. "They have sign on bonuses just for signing on with them."

Stanton's chosen career is in demand. That's because of a recent shortage for pilots. Stanton says part of the reason why begins in the classroom.

"They {students} see the fun, flying aspect," he said. "But, when it gets down to the ground portion of the 'nitty gritty' kind of stuff, you see them lose interest and motivation."

Another reason Stanton says there is a shortage of pilots is the cost of aviation school. It's around $60,000, at Indiana State University (ISU), to get through all the training that is required. And, that is not including tuition.

"It's not money that is wasted, it is an investment that you are investing into yourself," Stanton said. "You're investing knowledge into yourself to have a great outcome and a great life."

A deadly crash in 2009 changed the rules for soon to be pilots everywhere. Students must fly 1,500 hours before even being eligible for hire. Nearly 150 ISU students are trying to get hours by flying this summer. Sean Dawson flies around five to six times a week.

"You have this financial barrier with students trying to get through school and not being able to pay for it or not having the insurance right now," Dawson said. 

Students say the shortage is also due to pilots retiring. Pilots are required to retire at age 65. There is not enough regional airline pilots to fill the positions of airline pilots. For this reason, regional airlines have begun to increase the starting pay to about $60,000 as compared to a few years ago when it was around $40,000. 

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