Plane & Pilot
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Cockpit Career Update Part 1: Is Now The Time To Prepare For An Airline Job?


We invited leading industry representatives to our offices in Los Angeles for a conversation about the future of cockpit careers. Here’s what they had to say.


After September 11, pilot careers in 2001 looked bleak. Newspaper articles confirmed the airlines were hemorrhaging red ink, thousands of pilots had been furloughed and new hires appeared to be a thing of the past. While the media continues to talk about the tough times in the commercial air-travel industry, many insiders think the tide has turned." />

All the bad press that has been given to the airline industry has affected recruitment at university-level aeronautical programs as well. Hopefully, that’s beginning to turn around.

“Recruiting is up a bit. I think we’ve bottomed out as far as that goes, but retention is another issue,” says Ted Beneigh, professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “One of our biggest concerns is students who move to non-aeronautical science majors to gain the option of doing their flight training off campus. The students will still be able to show an Embry-Riddle degree to future bosses, even though their flight training would not have been as rigorous as ours. The university, the students and their parents know th at the quality of outside training isn’t as good, but with the negative press, the students and their parents simply aren’t willing to spend the extra dollars for the flight training at Embry-Riddle.”

Despite the difficulties over the last several years and the varieties of their experiences, our group of experts was in agreement that now is a perfect time to be preparing for a cockpit career. AIR, Inc. reported that 585 pilots were hired in January and 782 pilots were hired in February this year. The company is forecasting 6,000 to 7,000 new hires for 2004. As the major airlines beging to hire, many more jobs will develop and one thing is certain: Only those people who are ready when the call comes will get the jobs.

Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series in the next issue, where we’ll be discussing the changes occurring in the industry today.

Part 2: Changes In Pilot Careers



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