FAA 20 Year Forecast Notes Effects on Regional Airlines and ATP Certification – Training Capacity Not A Factor Included

Releasing its 20 Year Aerospace Forecast, the FAA has again highlighted important considerations for the aerospace industry. Noting growth in the U.S. domestic passenger carriage sector over the next 20 years, the FAA credited positive economic indicators and lower overall oil costs that airlines experience. Coupled with this is an expected continued growth in regional jets, which we all know will continue to need pilots to keep them flying. While many factors were noted and considered in the report, a couple directly relate to the training industry.

The full report highlights the fact that mainline airlines are credited with greater numbers of enplanements (they fly aircraft that carry more people) they also typically have a higher “revenue per mile” than the “regional” airlines. To some degree this has been corollary with the efforts of regional airlines to fly aircraft with greater seat loads while at the same time the FAA notes that “the regionals have less leverage with the mainline carriers than they have had in the past as the mainline carriers have negotiated contacts that are more favorable for their operational and financial bottom lines.” It goes on to note that, “Furthermore, the regional airlines are facing some pilot shortages. Their labor costs are increasing as they raise wages to combat the pilot shortage while their capital costs have increased in the short term…”

This point is important for the flight training industry as the regional airlines are many times the first target for many of the customers training providers serve for future employment.

Note is made of the fact that “commercial and air transport pilot (ATP)” certificates have been impacted by a legislative change as well” [that took place a few years ago]. This is something our training industry has been tracking, watching, and evaluating over the past few years and the effects have been far ranging. As these effects have been felt, it is noted that ATP certificates have generally trended down, while the need for them is trending up. This also matches an overall trend that is forecasted to continue for overall active pilot certificates through the end of this report. By nature, this will require a greater percentage of active pilot certificates to be utilized for employment purposes, but it does not necessarily mean that a greater need for pilots is needed. It may in fact just represent a greater (by percentage) decrease of non-commercial flying in the general aviation market.

What is of particular interest here is that in this report there is no modeling or even discussion of the training market capacity or ability in the United States.

While our system is estimating an aerospace forecast, it is not estimating how we will train needed pilots for the future or to what degree the available providers are able to meet the need. This is something that we certainly need to consider and address going forward if we are going to meet the forecast needs of the aerospace industry going forward.

You can see a summary and the full report by clicking the following links:

FAA 20 Year Forecast Highlights (2019-2039)


The full FAA Aerospace Forecast (Fiscal Years 2019-2039)

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About Jason Blair

Jason Blair is an active single- and multi-engine instructor and a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner with over 5,000 hours total time and over 3,000 hours instruction given, and he has flown over 100 different makes and models of general aviation aircraft. In his role as Examiner, he has issued over 2000 pilot certificates. He works and has worked for multiple aviation associations that promote training and general aviation. He also consults on aviation training and regulatory efforts for the general aviation industry.

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