TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – With summer travel right around the corner, experts warn the entire globe could fall short of 80,000 pilots by 2032.
Many airlines experienced major delays and cancelations this past holiday season, and experts said the summer months may tell a similar story.
In an analysis from Oliver Wyman, experts said North America is currently in an “acute” shortage, missing about 8,000 pilots. But as air travel bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic, the analysis warns this gap may only widen in the next decade.
Frank Manderino has been an instructor for Indiana State University’s Flight Academy for the past five years.
He said although there is a lack of pilots, he does not think it’s because there is a lack of interest.
“The entire pilot shortage was sort of a perfect storm really for it to happen. One thing was crew rest regulations, they made pilots start getting more rest, so you have to have more pilots cover your schedule, and then also a retiring boom kind of happened from the big hiring boom in the 80’s,” Manderino said.
Manderino said enrollment has dipped slightly in the Aviation program at ISU, but they are still able to be competitive about the students they select.
One of those students is Carson Hinterlong. He is a senior at ISU double majoring in Professional Flight Aviation Technology and Aviation Management.
He said he’s always known that he’s wanted to be a pilot, and that plan has never changed course.
“My dad is actually a pilot for United Airlines so I’ve been flying on planes since I was about six years old. So for me, I always enjoyed the plane ride a little bit more than the vacation usually so ever since then it’s always kind of been that lifelong dream I suppose. I’ve always wanted to be a pilot for as long as I can remember,” Hinterlong said.
Hinterlong said he believes the pilot shortage actually may be working to his benefit and giving students an even greater chance of landing a job straight out of college.
“I’ve had more [conversations] with United Airlines than others but United plans on hiring 10,000 pilots in the next 10 years or so. [That’s] unseen before, just because of this incredible amount of pilots reaching that required mandatory retirement age so they’ll be forced to go and they have to fill those spots so now is the time if there’s ever been a time,” Hinterlong said.
Manderino said although the economy as a whole has taken a hit recently, he thinks just like everything else, the shortage of pilots will bounce back eventually.
“Just like when COVID hit, the airlines are a very high-cost industry. The fuel cost is high, the maintenance is high, the equipment is expensive and now the pilot pay is very high so if the economy has a huge downturn, airlines usually follow suit,” Manderino said.
If you are interested in ISU’s Aviation program or Flight Academy, you can learn more by clicking here.