The national security of the U.S. relies on a healthy airline industry. That requires modern reliable airplanes – and highly skilled pilots to operate them.
However, the U.S. has a shortage of pilots right now, particularly at the regional airline levels.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were about 827,000 pilots in the U.S. in 1987. Over the last three decades, that number has decreased by 30 percent.
Meanwhile, during this time period, there has been a tremendous increase in the demand for air travel. The International Air Transport Association predicts that, over the next 20 years, air travel will double.
This is a classic case of low supply and high demand. This mismatch has created a perfect storm that could wreak havoc on the U.S. airline industry over the next decade. The somber news is this shortage is going to get much worse.
I have not only studied and researched the airline industry since 1978, but I also was a pilot for 19 years, before going back to academia in 2006.