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Worldwide pilot shortage impacts local flying clubs, good news for students

Last Updated Jan 26, 2018 at 9:23 pm PDT

Pilot in cockpit. (MatusDuda, iStock)

A worldwide pilot shortage is affecting a local flight school, which says airlines are hiring many of their instructors

The shortage is good news for students graduating from schools like the Professional Flight Centre

The centre is constantly training new instructors to take over for those being hired by airlines

DELTA (NEWS 1130) РA worldwide shortage of pilots is good news for students graduating from BC flight schools.

But, the shortage also represents a challenge for those same schools — especially when it comes to finding instructors.

“The airlines come around and pick them off,” explains John Montgomery, the founder of Professional Flight Centre Limited. “This year we probably are going to lose ten or more. We are continually training new instructors to take their place.”

Much of it is because of the way people move around in the aviation industry.

“The top line carriers… as they hire, they pull from the second line carriers,” he says. “And then that, of course, is filled by the next tier down, and then there’s all of us –the flight instructors– that are easy pickings for the airline, the entry-level airline.”

Montgomery says a growing middle class in places like India and China is ultimately to blame for the pilot shortage — more disposable incomes¬†create higher demand for air travel.

Many of the school’s graduates are international students, getting work right away back in Korea, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

He says in Canada, Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz, WestJet, and Encore are all hiring.

“We’ve got no shortage of business. Our problem is just sustaining the instructors, you know to make sure we have enough instructors to meet the demand. It’s perpetual, we’re working on that every day.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

“Get some experience up, and then they’re gone,” he says, proudly. “It does make our life a little more difficult because we always have to try to stay one step ahead, but I’m just really glad to see how open it is these days.”

And if you’re looking to make a career change, Montgomery says you can sometimes get your license in as little as 12 to 14 months, if you’re doing it full time and if the weather cooperates.