Episode 227 – Advancing the Pilot Community

Adam Smith, Senior VP AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community

Guest Adam Smith is Senior Vice President of the AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community, through which AOPA will consolidate all its efforts to expand the pilot community. That’s a two part task: first to stop the decline in the pilot population, and second to try and grow the pilot community.

We talk to Adam about the pilot shortage: Is it real? Is it here now? Also, what does the declining pilot population do to the critical mass necessary to support the aviation infrastructure?

Adam also talks about how the “mental state of depression” over the decline in the number of pilots may not be warranted, and it certainly isn’t healthy. He notes that we are all marketers for aviation and this isn’t something that AOPA is going to solve for all of us. Also that the role of government advocacy is to keep from adding burdens, like user fees.

Part of the plan for the Center includes the launch of a flying clubs initiative to improve the flight training experiece, and grow a national network of flying clubs. AOPA’s Benét Wilson has a new regular feature on flying clubs and if you’d like to have your flying club profiled, please email Benét at Benet.Wilson@aopa.org. Also be sure to visit the AOPA Flying Clubs page.

The week’s aviation news:

In this week’s Australia Desk report:

Following last week’s geographic confusion on the show, we provide a correction, then its on to the news…. The RAAF’s 5th and final KC30A tanker has been delivered although its still not on home soil yet, Tiger Airways loses its CEO to Jetstar, and local companies are urging the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to allow expanded usage of un-manned aerial systems in Australian skies.

Find more from Grant and Steve at the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast, and follow the show on Twitter at @pcdu Steve’s at @stevevisscher and Grant at @falcon124. Australia Desk archives can be found at www.australiadesk.net.

In this week’s Across the Pond segment:

We go down to South Africa with Editor of Aircraft.co.za, Danie Heath to find out who are the main airline players and where they operate from. Danie tells us about the capacity for new low cost carriers and how the South African aircraft manufacturing industry is still very active.

Look for Aircraft.co.za on Facebook and Twitter. Find Pieter on Twitter as @Nascothornet, on his blog Alpha Tango Papa, on Facebook at XTPMedia, and at the Aviation Xtended podcast.

Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at www.brotherloverocks.com.

4 thoughts on “Episode 227 – Advancing the Pilot Community

  1. Terry D Welander

    Demand for pilots has almost never been relevant. At least one third of the active commercial pilots have other careers. Once in a while, some of the other career people will move back into an aviation job. This hidden competition will always be there. Misleading pilots, new or newer pilots in particular on pilot demand is not helpful. Specifically, there will always be more competition than meets the eye and aviation jobs will likely never have a shortage of applicants because of pilots in other careers. Or, a reality check for those: the sky is always sunny people; which is just not, not, not the case for pilots; even though positive talk is always joyful to hear. Keeping it joyfully real matters; especially to or for young people in my experience.

  2. Dennis Michael Murphy

    An airline job no longer pays well, and the working conditions are worse each year. If the airlines are not attracting pilots, the whole system is broke.
    Pilots have been willing to half starve to death to build hours for an airline job for as long as I’ve been in aviation – 45 years. No more. They are finally getting smart and going elsewhere.
    I never had any desire to fly for the airlines. Now I do line checks with the airlines all the time, and most of the pilots seem barely tolerate of their jobs. They try to refrain from saying so, but the message is clear. “If you’re looking for a good job, it ain’t here.” I am sooo glad I never wanted an airline job.
    The airlines have always been the top of the pyramid for pilot jobs. When there is no longer a goal to go to the airlines, why would the greatest majority of commercial pilots aspire to be commercial pilots.
    The answer – I have no idea.

    FAA Aviation Safety Inspector
    ATP, CFI, CFII, seven type ratings – airplane and helicopter

  3. LittleMissSunsh

    This is a tough one. It’s hard to deny Adam’s passion. Most of us today (I’m in my 30s) just don’t have the “dream of flight” anymore. We’ve been in airplanes since we’ve been babies. Flying as to compete with video games and unfortunately is still stuck in the 50s. We need an incredible injection of “new” in aviation, and folks, light sport aint it. And yes, cost is an issue. It’s a huge issue. Out of KPAO to go one hour for a hamburger and come back in a decent C172 costs 400$. I crack up when I hear the APOA survey that says that it’s not. Maybe it’s not for flight training, but for something that requires (and deserves) so much dedication, less costs means more hours means more safety.

  4. Charley Armstrong

    As a younger pilot, there are two things that I find are barriers to new entrants. One, the cost of instruction and renting training aircraft. It is very difficult for a teen / college student / young adult to afford a flying hobby unless they have wealthy benefactors. Two, even when a young person attains licensure, they have very few peers that share their passion. I am lucky enough to have befriended flight instructors near my age group who are building time, but to be honest, most pilots are significantly older than new/student pilots in their 20s. Traditional pilot social activities like “pancake breakfasts” are not particularly interesting to young adults. So yea, there is a generation gap (probably by a factor of 2.)

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