A growing number of business aircraft operators are beginning to feel the effect of a shortage of qualified pilots, according to a recent survey from online aviation job marketplace JSfirm (Booth 4837). The results of its 2016 Business Aviation Survey found that 43.12 percent of respondents answered “yes” to the question “Is the pilot shortage impacting your operations?” This is up from 31.53 percent in 2015, the first year JSfirm conducted the survey.
“This survey aligns with what we are seeing internally,” said JSfirm manager Jeff Richards, who noted that job postings are up 30 percent this year.
The survey of more than 200 Part 91 and 135 operators also found a decline in flight hours and new and used aircraft acquisitions, when compared with last year. When asked what the estimated increase in flight hours was, 46.54 percent responded “no increase.” This is up from 41.21 percent in 2015. Those that did report increases in 2016 primarily estimated the increase to be by 20 percent or less. Roughly only 7 percent of the respondents increased their flight hours by more than that.
Those that planned to acquire new aircraft in the next 12 to 24 months dropped from 19.01 percent in 2015 to 15.32 percent. Used aircraft acquisition plans dropped slightly from 28.17 percent in 2015 to 27.93 percent of respondents this year. In addition, refurb plans are down over the next two years, falling from 34.86 percent that expressed plans for refurbishment of their existing aircraft last year to this year’s survey showing 30.63 percent.
The majority of the respondents operate small flight departments with 10 or fewer employees. About half of the respondents have no more than two aircraft in the flight department and another 20.74 percent have between three to five aircraft.