National pilot shortage could have impact on flights in Birmingham

Published: Jun. 8, 2017 at 2:45 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2017 at 11:13 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A national pilot shortage could impact the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. We're told regional airlines don't have enough pilots to keep up with flight schedules.

One of the leading causes of the shortage could be the mandatory retirement age of 65 for pilots. It was raised from 60 a few years ago. Another reason could be the price tag and training to become a pilot. Its not cheap by any means.

WBRC spoke with corporate pilot Holly Roe. She was also a longtime air traffic control specialist. Roe feels increasing salaries could help attract new pilots. She says a lot of the up and coming pilots are getting their minimum hours in and moving up the chain.

"All of your younger pilots that are coming up as soon as they are getting to 15-hundred hours which used to be the minimums for an airline transport pilots certificate are immediately going to work for the airlines at the regional level and then they work their way up," Roe said.

The Regional Airline Association estimates some of the major carriers will need over 18,000 new pilots by the end of 2020. We're told the pilot shortage could have major impacts on small airports and could force some of them to lose air service.

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