Monday, July 30, 2007

Pilot shortage

Northwest Airlines canceled 200 flights over the weekend due to a pilot shortage. They did the same the last week of June. Is this about to become a common problem?

It already is, although it is recent. After 9/11, many pilots were laid off and left the industry. With the growth of the world economy, the need for pilots has never been greater: India and China alone project needing to hire 4,000 new pilots each year.

In just the first half of this year, countries in the Persian Gulf ordered 1,100 planes from Boeing and Airbus. It takes between 10 and 30 highly trained pilots for each aircraft depending on how far it flies; which means that over the next few years, those countries will need over 20,000 new pilots.

The FAA is considering raising the mandatory pilot retirement age from 60 to 65 as ICAO, the Int’l Civil Aviation Organization, has already done.

But the FAA is also considering rules that would make it much more expensive for general aviation pilots to fly, which would reduce the size of the pool of both future airline pilots and their flight instructors.

Say the airlines do find and train all these new pilots for all these new aircraft. What will that then mean for the price of oil and global warming?

Maybe we should all just spend a little more time home with our families.

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