After asking for a show of hands from air charter operators who are experiencing difficulties filling pilot vacancies, FAA deputy director of flight standards John Duncan told attendees at this week’s NATA Air Charter Summit that he gets involved in discussions about pilot shortages in a lot of different venues. “From an academic standpoint, it’s going to be interesting,” he said. “But from a community standpoint, it’s probably going to be a little painful. This is an interesting dilemma for the aviation community.”
Although the airlines have always been able to attract people with experience that they needed, there is a perception that the new flight, duty and rest rules will create a need for more pilots. A second dynamic is the new first-officer qualification rule requiring 1,500 hours total time, with which the smaller feeder organizations are already having problems.
So the airlines have to look to other places for pilots. How that will affect the Part 135 segment is intriguing, Duncan explained, because pilots moving to Part 121 are going to need 1,500 hours, “which puts [Part] 135 operations in a different place.” He asked NATA attendees for their support for a “U.S. aviation academy” that is now under discussion. It would use four-year universities to train pilots and mechanics and leverage financial backing so the costs of training would not be overwhelming.