Not to Forget About the Aircraft Mechanics; What Data Tells Us About Those that Keep Our Planes Flying

I like looking at pilot certificate data. Those of you that read this blog probably already know this. But what about mechanics?

Airplanes don’t fly, at least for long periods of time without mechanical attention. Our pilot population is aging, declining, and changing; so is our mechanic population.

A starting point might be to look at the total number of “mechanic certificates held” as a measure of how many are out there.

The graph below shows some data here that does indicate that in a general sense we have less mechanic certificates held now than we did going back to 1999. We are somewhere around 30,000 less mechanic certificates held than at that time.

This chart however in some ways drives more questions than it answers. Sure, if we look at 1999 and 2021 comparatively we see that there are less certificates held in 2021. But we also see some big dips and then climb backs of numbers of certificates held. Certification process seems to be the explanation for the big drops (changing in timing and process for maintaining IA certificates – that require renewal). So, the gist is that isn’t as big a worry as the chart might initially indicate, but anytime we see a bunch of people drop out of certificate, even for administrative reasons, it generally results in less of them “becoming recurrent” again. Continue reading

2021 FAA Airman Cert Data Trends – Highlights and Insights

Each year that the FAA releases statistical data on U.S. airmen certification efforts, I, and probably a very small number of other people in our industry get excited. We dork out over the data and try to parse it in ways that help us understand trends in our industry. If we can understand some of this data, it helps us understand what is happening in our pilot production pipeline.

The yearly data came out about a week ago, earlier than most years, and I have spent the last few days playing with the data and putting it into my own spreadsheets where I track some of the trends. Each year I do this, I like to share some of the data points I think might be interesting to others in the training sector of aviation. So, with that, let’s check out some of the data and trends I noted.

Overall Pilot Certificate/Rating Production Remains Strong

Even with many of the challenges we all have experienced in the past two years, overall pilot certificate production remains strong.

When we look at specific ratings, the primary ones being for Private Pilot, Instrument Ratings, and Commercial Pilot certifications, we see these specific ratings are still continuing to have relatively strong numbers of certificate issuances. In fact, pre-COVID numbers were actually lower than we saw even during COVID restriction affected time periods.

Continue reading

Jason and Jim Bahamas 2022 Flying

How Many CFIs Endorse Applicants for Practical Test, with the 2021 Numbers

Ever wonder how you compare to other CFIs when it comes to how many applicants you sign off for a practical test in a given year? The good news is that in a general sense we can help you figure that out.

The FAA shares some data with industry members on how many CFIs sign off an (or multiple) applicants for practical tests each year. in ranges.

With that said, here is the table of those signoff statistics for the least few years, with the freshly shared 2021 statistics included:

As you can see from the bottom numbers, less than 10,000 CFIs endorse EVEN ONE applicant for a practical test on any given year. There are currently well over 110,000 CFI active CFI certificates, although as of January 1, 2022, only 83,596 of those had an active medical certificate, which means a small percentage of the total CFI certificate holder population is actively endorsing applicants for certificates and/or ratings on any given year. While I have covered this in previous posts, this doesn’t mean none of these CFIs are doing any instruction. They could be doing flight review, IPC, currency instruction, or none of this. Many of them are actively flying as professional pilots. However, it does not go without notice to me that in 2020 nearly 20% of the CFI population was over the age of 65. I will update these numbers in a future post when the full set of 2021 data and certification numbers is available.

This data again highlights the fact that is a small subset of the CFI population that is doing the bulk of the training for certificates and/or ratings. It also highlights the fact that the largest numbers of CFIs only endorse a small number of applicants each year. This trend has not changed over the recent years. In any given year, fully two-thirds of those CFIs that do endorse an applicant do less than 5 of them.

So, with that, if you are a CFI, you can now take a look at where you might fall in these ranges.

If you happen to be one of the few CFIs endorsing higher numbers of applicants for practical tests, you are certainly in limited company!