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The Commercial Pilot Shortage and the Future of the Industry

Updated: Sep 7, 2022



We’re living in an interesting period historically where career choices are wider open than they’ve been in decades. You may have heard news about commercial pilot shortages, which has made you start to contemplate becoming a pilot as a career choice. Should you become a commercial pilot?

In the midst of the commercial pilot shortage and with air traffic on an upswing again, many airlines need pilots. There has never been a better time to consider a commercial pilot career.

In this article, we’ll explore how we’ve arrived at this point of a commercial pilot shortage. We’ll also examine in-depth whether the role of a commercial pilot could be the right one for you. If you’re pondering where to take your education and your career, you won’t want to miss this!


According to the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA in a report published in 2022, the FAA's Air Traffic Organization handles 16,405,000 flights. During peak operational times, there may be as many as 5,400 aircraft in the sky at once.

That data correlates with this graph from Statista, which showcases the number of air traffic passengers flying into or out of the United States between 2006 and 2021.

As that chart illustrates, the airline industry took a major nosedive in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down travel into and out of the United States and much of the world as well.

During this time, many pilots took early retirement because of the decrease in flights. Additionally, in another 2022 article from ABC News, between 2022 and 2029, up to 5,000 additional pilots could retire, and that about half of all pilots in the US will have retired within 15 years.

Combine this with the surge in airline travel demand so far in 2022 from customers and this has resulted in a severe shortage of commercial airline pilots.

Flight delays could also continue to be a more common reality as airlines scramble to find pilots to commandeer a flight.

All this is to say that the commercial airline industry could certainly use more commercial pilots, and soon!

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