UI Aviation Director: Local Airports To Suffer From Pilot Shortage


The head of the University of Illinois’ Institute of Aviation says regional airlines could suffer the most from a pilot shortage throughout the industry.

A report in the Wall Street Journal this week says a wave of retirements and increased training rules have prompted airlines to accelerate hiring and cut some service. 

Institute of Aviation Interim Director Tom Emanuel says industry growth is another factor.  He said more people can afford an airline ticket, and pilot demand in areas like Asia has ‘soared.’

Emanuel says small airports like the U of I’s Willard Airport and Bloomington’s Central Illinois Regional Airport could suffer the most, as those still in the field look to move up quickly.

"(They're a) flight instructor or charter (pilot) for a certain period of time, a pilot gets enough experience to move on to the co-pilot position, one of the regional airlines like American Eagle for example," he said.  They would hope after spending X-amount of years with them, they could move to the captain’s seat in the regional jet, and then eventually move up to a larger airline, simply because the larger airlines tend to pay more than the larger airlines do.”

Emanuel said Congress didn't seem to have much expertise when approving new pilot training rules, saying they 'shot from the hip,' and assumed more training is better.

But he said there still seems to be a strong interest locally in learning to fly, although not necessarily pursuing a career as a pilot. 

With the U of I's Institute closing, and starting at Champaign's Parkland College in the fall, Emanuel said the program is gradually picking up a number of appliants. 

Story source: WILL