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Pilot Shortage May Be on the Horizon

With the federally mandated retirement age looming for many pilots, some experts are predicting that the United States may be facing a pilot shortage soon. Thousands of new rules for pilots regarding training and rest are kicking in this year, so some say the shortage of pilots may be coming as early as 2013.  One of the new rules requires copilots to have as many flight hours as captains in the cockpit.  With the mandatory retirement age of 65 requiring many pilots to retire, it leaves some to wonder if their shoes can be filled quickly enough.  In 2000, the retirement age of pilots in the U.S. was raised from 60 to 65 years old.  As the first wave of these pilots’ retirements has begun, experts are calling for a study of what may become a crisis very soon.  Click here to read Aviation Week article. Some experts are saying that regional airlines will be hit particularly hard because the bigger carriers pay more in pilots’ salaries. It is estimated some 90,000 pilots currently work for U.S. carriers and roughly 8,000 a year will need to be hired in the coming years, particularly if the economy improves and an increased growth in travel is seen.  A 2012 Boeing report estimated a need for 460,000 new commercial pilots in the next two decades.