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Airlines face empty seats in the cockpit

EKU Aviation Fleet

Yet again, another industry expert discusses the looming pilot shortage. However, in this article, the new Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) requirements is also discussed.

It should be noted that EKU aviation modified its curriculum three years ago to be ready for this change. So, today, all EKU aviation graduates meet this new minimum qualification to fly right seat. Further, it discusses new the FAA crew rest policies. Beginning fall 2011, EKU Aviation added a 3-part crew rest policy. All flight students and instructors must observe one day in seven to stand down and decompress. All aircrew must also observe nine hours of uninterrupted crew rest between crew days. And finally, no crew day may exceed 12 hours.

New in this article, however, is an author emphasizing the importance of a passion to fly, in addition to the financial compensation side of an aviation career. Finally and most importantly, and I quote, “The major U.S. airlines are just beginning the longest and largest pilot hiring binge in history!” Thus, if you have ever dreamed of becoming a professional pilot, NOW is the time to contact EKU Aviation.

Ralph Gibbs
EKU Director of Aviation
by Val Prevish

Aron Asher counts himself among recruits to an old line of work gaining new cachet: commercial pilots, entering the workforce as warnings of a nationwide pilot shortage grow.

Asher landed a job with Republic Airlines, a regional carrier based in Columbus, after finishing pilot training at University of Cincinnati Clermont College.

“I see this as an ongoing issue for the next 20 years,” said Eric Radtke, chief aviation instructor at UC Clermont’s aviation program. Twenty students are pilot trainees at UC Clermont, a 25 percent increase over the past three years, Radtke said.

Thousands of pilots are retiring this year just as the Federal Aviation Administration is introducing rules requiring new training and more rest between flights.

The FAA recently announced a new rule requiring co-pilots or first officers to get 1,500 hours of flight time for certification, up from 250 hours. Starting next year, the minimum rest period before flight duty will rise from eight hours to 10.

Radtke said aviation schools also are being pressed for more graduates because the military is turning out fewer trained pilots. “The future has never been brighter” for aspiring pilots, he said.

Boeing, one of the largest manufacturers of commercial passenger aircraft, estimates that, worldwide, airlines will need to hire almost half a million pilots through 2032. Analysts say the brunt of the shortage will be felt by regional carriers, which operate half the nation’s scheduled flights. They won’t be able to compete with big airlines.

“The major U.S. airlines are just beginning the longest and largest pilot hiring binge in history, and the ‘wake turbulence’ will be very disruptive to smaller flight operations who feed them pilots,” said Louis Smith, president of, a company that provides career and financial advice to pilots.

UC Clermont College is the only college in Greater Cincinnati that offers a professional pilot program that combines academic study with actual pilot training. All of the training is done in partnership with Sporty’s Academy at the Clermont County/Sporty’s Airport in Batavia.

The school recently added career track programs with Dayton-based PSA Airlines and South Burlington, Vt.-based CommutAir, both regional airlines. In just the past few weeks, Radtke says several instructors have left for airline jobs.

“What many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be superhuman or a math and science whiz to be at the controls of an airliner,” he says. “You must possess a valid medical certificate of health, but you don’t need perfect vision.”

Becoming a commercial pilot requires an associate degree, and a bachelor’s degree is encouraged, Radtke said. UC Clermont partners with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, allowing students to combine an aviation degree with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a path of study preferred by many airlines, he says.

Flight and classroom training runs roughly $50,000 at UC’s Professional Pilot Training Program, and further training or education can add to that.

Entry-level pay for a commercial pilot is low, with most starting in the low-$20,000s, Radtke said. A senior captain at a large carrier can earn six figures, but that can take years to achieve.

Not everyone is buying the projections of a dire pilot shortage. Katie Connell, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, which represents the industry, says it’s overblown.

“Long-term projections ... are based on assumptions about airline growth that have often proved to be faulty,” Connell said. “We expect the major commercial airlines will be appropriately staffed, and are not expecting any shortage within the next few years.”

Asher tells college freshmen thinking of a pilot’s career to do it for the love of flying. “When I chose flying it was because I enjoy doing it,” he says.

“It wasn’t mainly for the money. I enjoy going to work every day.”

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Published on January 15, 2014

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