Many of the nation's airlines find themselves with a surplus of pilots because of the coronavirus pandemic. But, just a few years ago, many were predicting a pilot shortage.
Before the pandemic, flight instructors gave students in the industry the hopes of getting a job in the air, but now, with the airline industry on hold due to lack of travel, the industry has changed.
Many current students might be left wondering, "Is this the best career path?"
Flight department chair and instructor at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Parker Northup, assures them that it is. He says industry professionals look at how many pilots plan to retire soon and airlines' plan to expand once the virus is under control and travel is back to normal.
He says that could be within 6 to 9 months. "So if someone that’s looking for a 40 year airline career, 6 to 9 months will pass and they will understand that we will return to hundreds of millions of airline miles in this country in a year," he said.
Flight student Martin Kurkchubasche has been flying since he was a 14. He's now a senior and says he isn't worried about his career choice.
"Of course we have the concerns. No one’s traveling right now but again everything’s going to pick up. People like to travel, it’s something that is a given, so I’m not worried about it at all. I know that our industry is going to pick back up," Kurkchubasche said.
The pandemic is giving instructors the opportunity to train students on the affects of industry slow downs have such as this one. It's better now than further in their career, he explains.
"Students have a better sense on how to operate airplanes with passengers in environments where disease is an issue or something they have to address," Northup said.
Lack of travel has not affected the flight school Northup works at, saying last year there were 600 applications and this year there are 800.