More airline pilots are retiring — and fewer people want their jobs

WCPO

Length, cost of training keep would be pilots away

BY: Roxanna Swift/WCPO contributor

POSTED: 7:00 AM, Feb 15, 2016

With an aging population of airline captains — a career with a mandatory retirement age of 65 — and fewer people pursuing aviation careers, replacing retiring pilots is challenging. Adding airlines’ projected growth plans to the mix, the International Civil Aviation Organization predicts a shortfall of 8,146 pilots by the year 2030.

“They (airlines) have growth plans, and they’re struggling to see how they’re going to replace pilots and populate their growth,” said John Fanselow, chief flight instructor for Lunken Flight Training Center.

When aspiring pilots set a course for a career, they often are drawn to the idea of flying for an airline. Whether the appeal is in the potential six figure salary or traveling to other parts of the country or the world, the lifestyle and average starting salary for new pilots with regional airlines can be a deterrent.

“It’s a brutal lifestyle, and you don’t get paid very well for it,” Fanselow said.

The median salary for a large jet airline captain is $123,955, according to Salary.com. Yet, for a first officer in his or her first year, the salary can be as low as $25,000.

“It’s like any profession,” said Tim Spitzig, chief flight instructor for Cincinnati Flight Training. “You start out on a one year probation period for airlines. They might start you at $25,000 to $30,000, but after a year, it’ll double.”

After six or seven years, pilots can make around $70,000 to $100,000, he said. Even then, factors like the size of the aircraft play a role in determining a pilot’s wages.

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