CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Airlines across the country are struggling to hire pilots, and aviation analysts predict that by 2030, there will be a shortage of 30,000 pilots.
Aviation expert Bob Miller has been teaching people to fly for more than two decades. He said the public is demanding more flights, but also more safety, and because of that, it takes longer for people to become pilots.
Miller said he’s not sure what the solution is, but believes the pilot shortage will get worse.
In 2010 the federal aviation administration act was passed, after nearly 50 people were killed in the plane crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence.
Members of Congress and families of Flight 3407 said the crash was largely due to pilot error.
The legislation made air travel safer by raising the standards of pilot training requirements, including a 1,500 hour training rule. Miller said safety should always be a priority, and that there’s a trade off — more safety requirements means that becoming a pilot will take more time and be more expensive.
“We can’t have it both ways,” Miller said. “If you want that safety, which is primary, I agree. Then you’re going to have to look at the qualifications. Maybe the 1,500 hours, some say in the industry, that’s not necessary.”
Miller added that it could take people anywhere from 5 to 7 years to complete the 15-hundred hour training requirement.
“It’s almost easier and less expensive to qualify as a physician or a surgeon as it is to become an airline pilot, and as a result, there’s a huge shortage,” he said. “They’re estimating that the shortage of some-30,000 pilots by the end of 2030. What’s gonna happen? We don’t know. We know some airlines like Southwest have to curtail flights. They have airplanes sitting on the ground for lack of flight crews. It’s becoming a genuine problem.”
News 4 on Monday reported that the airline SkyWest has requested to bypass training requirements.
Members of Congress and the families of 3407 will be in Washington tomorrow to testify at a hearing to prevent the company from doing so.
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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.