CNBC says there's a pilot shortage. Is that true?
Is there really a pilot shortage?
Just a few weeks ago, CNBC published the article, "How airlines plan to create a new generation of pilots amid fears of decade-long cockpit crisis" and it goes over the various programs that are out there for pilot training. From airline sponsored programs like United's Aviate to pilot mill operations like ATP, there are many programs in the United States that have the shared goal of producing more pilots. However, the main underlying message of the article is that there is a pilot shortage. Is there really a pilot shortage?
This "pilot shortage" has been touted for years even before the pandemic and it's an interesting topic to delve into because everyone has their own opinion on whether or not it actually exists. I remember just getting into aviation and the CFIs I worked with would mention it. However, looking at data regarding the number of ATP-MEL certificates issued, you might see a different picture.
ALPA took this data from the FAA and it shows that there are more ATP-MEL certificates issued now compared to pre-pandemic levels. You might think after looking at this that because there are more ATP certificates being issued that there really isn't a pilot shortage. However with the number of pilots facing mandatory retirement and also the number of pilots that took early retirement packages during the pandemic, it's really hard to gauge if there is a pilot shortage or not.
How it started and where it's going
The story really starts in 1978 with the Airline Deregulation Act. Prior to this act passing congress, airline transport was regulated by the federal Civil Aeronatics Board as a public utility. This meant that the government set the routes and the fares. After the act was passed, the airline companies were free to regulate themselves and determine which routes and fares would work best for them. It truly gave rise to the capitalist enterprise that the airline industry is today. What this means is that whatever situation we are in today, whether you believe there is a pilot shortage or not, is the product of the actions of the airline companies.
Prior to the FAA changing the minimum requirements after the Colgan Air 3407 crash, regional pilots were getting paid less than 30 thousand a year. This really stifled the amount of people interested in becoming a pilot due to the huge commitment required to become a pilot and the lack of benefit at the end of training. It didn't really matter too much though, since many of the airline's pilots were sourced from the military. However this reservoir is slowly depleting and even they are having difficulty recruiting new pilots.
This past June marked a significant change in regional pilot wages which has dramatically shifted where the pilot shortage is in the supply chain. Regional pilots will now be making nearly double what they used to make. Now, many CFIs are hurriedly flocking to the regionals and the pilots at the regionals are in turn going to the legacy carriers. What this means is that the real shortage is at flight schools.
Who's having the biggest slice?
With more people getting interested in aviation, flight schools are going to need to step up their game. ATP Flight School is really seeing the benefits of the pilot shortage and are capitalizing heavily on influx of new student pilots. According to Michael Arnold, director of marketing for ATP Flight School, ATP enrollment has surpassed pre-pandemic levels and has seen enrollment increase by more than 50%. They placed more than 1200 graduates into the airlines and they are on a mission to train 20,000 pilots for the airlines by 2030. They are able to achieve this through their digital marketing.
ATP Flight School is really a marketing jewel all in itself. With their cool videos, advertising on social media networks, and their lead generating website; ATP Flight School is slowing taking over the pilot training industry. Many part 141 and part 61 flight schools outside of ATP Flight School wonder how they could ever compete. This is where Right Rudder Marketing comes in.
Flight School Marketing System
Flight schools are getting hurt the most by the pilot shortage and the best thing that they can do is attract more student pilots so they have a new crop of CFIs to work at their schools. An effective marketing system starts with a website that is optimized for search, and then using marketing psychology to take website visitors to a call to action. Your call to action needs to be booking a discovery flight. Many flight schools take a passive approach and just simply leave it to a contact form, but If you're looking to compete against your local market and companies like ATP Flight School, we're going to have to take a more aggressive approach.
Right Rudder Marketing's approach to digital marketing is the following:
- Target interested customers to come to your website
- Have these visitors book a discovery flight
- Convert the prospect into a student pilot that trains at your school
We do this through a variety of ways and solely relying on one form of marketing is not going to do the trick. Mulitple approaches are required and Right Rudder Marketing is your one stop shop for your marketing needs. Whether it's through website design, search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, email marketing, reputation management, print marketing, or social media management; Right Rudder Marketing is here to take your flight school to the next level.
If you'd like to learn more about what we do, schedule a free call with us and we'll take a look at your current Flight School Marketing System. We'll look at the local market and your competition and we'll help develop a plan tailored for your flight school to really accelerate the number of student pilots coming to your school.
A pilot shortage?
Let's bring it back to what we were originally talking about. Is there a pilot shortage? The answer is yes, but it's not what most people think. It's a shortage of qualified instructors at flight schools. Qualified regional pilots are moving to the legacy carriers and to fill these empty seats, regional airlines are offering huge incentives for pilots to join the regionals. This in turn is causing flight schools to bear the consequences of the pilot shortage since their CFIs are quickly moving to the regionals. However, with renewed interest in aviation there is a significant increase in the number of people interested in becoming a pilot so there is a huge opportunity.
Now more than ever, people spend more time online which means that to stay competive, flight schools are going to need to take a look at their online presence and their digital marketing. Consider Right Rudder Marketing to help you develop your Flight School Marketing System and take your marketing online. Right Rudder Marketing is a rapidly expanding pilot owned digital marketing agency working exclusively with flight schools throughout the United States. Most flight schools rely on local marketing agencies or big name corporate marketing agencies to push their company on the interenet, but these agencies don't really understand the pilot training process.
It's more than just getting people on to your website. It's enlightening your visitors through your website, having them book a discovery flight, and then guiding them down a path of how to become a pilot by training at your school. Give us a call and let's see how we can upgrade your Flight School Marketing System.
Fly with digital marketing experts that know the flight training industry.
We are a team of pilots that know the flight training industry. Because if your marketing team doesn't know what the pilot training experience is like, then how can they be successful for you? See what we're talking about by booking a call now!Book a Strategy Call
We are a rapidly expanding pilot owned digital marketing agency working exclusively with flight schools throughout the United States. We're on a mission to help 100 flight schools double their student body and dominate their service area by 2025.
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