Attacking the Pilot Shortage

Air Mobility Command is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry to address a major shortfall in the number of pilots flying in the US. Representatives from AMC, the FAA, airline trade associations, academia, and multiple airlines met Jan. 7 at AMC headquarters at Scott AFB, Ill., to discuss current and future shortfalls in pilot manning that could threaten the health of the airline industry, along with projected numbers of military pilots. “Pilot manning is a national issue and not specific to only the military or commercial sector,” AMC Commander Gen. Carlton Everhart said in a release. Multiple changes to pilot requirements, including extending pilot retirement age to 65 and increasing the minimum number of flight hours required to obtain a transport pilot certificate, have coincided to cause a limit on the number of pilots certifying while large numbers of pilots are retiring, according to AMC. This means pilot manning has fallen to the point where some rural areas are not getting air service. Because many pilots are military reservists as well, military operations are impacted, said Merle Lyman, chief of the Defense Department commercial airlift division, in the release. The group will continue to meet and is expected to eventually meet with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to propose solutions to the issue, according to the release.