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Study predicts worldwide pilot shortage by 2025

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 10:53 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A new study by consulting firm Oliver Wyman shows by the middle of the decade, there could be a shortage of 50,000 pilots worldwide by 2025.

The study projects North American operators will feel the shortage first and that this could be a big threat to airlines as they try to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

“We’re going to have the same amount of people flying in 2019 as we will in 2023 and if it takes us five years to take a pilot basically from not being able to fly to being an airline competent aviation professional it’s going to take a little bit of time, so we can’t just go from zero to 100 percent,” said Cody Christensen, South Dakota State University Aviation Program Coordinator.

Members of the SDSU Aviation Program say they’re not surprised by the shortage since many current pilots were closing in on retirement before the pandemic started.

“We were seeing a lot of people hitting their mandatory retiring age or just retiring from the airlines, it was kind of an older generation. There was a need for a younger generation to get into it and replace them and then the pandemic hit and things kind of went down,” said Jillian Deboer, SDSU Flight Instructor.

Those involved in aviation say this pandemic has highlighted one key aspect of the flying industry.

“Now in the pandemic, it just shows right now that we are a very acyclical industry, so right now hiring isn’t what it supposed to be, but I really do think in the next 6 months to a year our students are really going to have a lot of job opportunity and the growth is definitely going to be there,” said Christensen.

Despite the looming shortage, SDSU has high hopes for the future of aviation.

“We’re seeing definitely an increase in students in our program it’s been growing progressively, so that’s great to see and I think that need is going to be fulfilled, but I think there’s still room for more people to get into aviation,” said Deboer.

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