Airline companies grapple with pilot retirement problems

- Many big airlines are facing a pilot shortage in the coming years, as a large generation of pilots hits retirement age.

"The airlines are taking a look at the long view, and they are seeing some problems downstream," said Professor Ron Carr with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

As many pilots are reaching the retirement age of 65, airlines are concerned about a growing pilot shortage.  Professor Carr believes the basic problem for the shortage is the result of a legislation that passed in 2010.

The legislation involves the change in the hours required to fly commercial planes.

"That went from 250 to 300 hours up to 1500 hours," said Carr. "That gap pulls the real problem, because the person who got their certificates basically has to pay for those difference in hours."

Carr said airlines and flight schools are finding different ways to attract new flyers.

"They are beginning to add some bridge programs between the universities, like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has bridge programs with different airlines," said Carr.

The industry is trying to adapt in order to deal with the shortage, and now, some young people are embarking on pilot careers. Major airlines could be interested in hiring graduates from the beginning, bringing them on board for small operations, so they can build their time.

Joel Davidson, CEO of Aero Guard, said they are trying to bring students on board. 

"Locally, we are doing some work with some of the high schools," said Davidson. "We are appearing at open houses and career fairs to talk to students about what the career is like to become a pilot."

For new flight instructor Jordan Bush, he knew he's always wanted to be a pilot.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've always loved planes," said Bush. "I've always loved flying. The thrill of it too. Pilots are in demand right now. I'm happy to feel those shoes that need to be filled."

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