CAE Says Pilot Shortage Will Get Worse

Canada-based flight training company CAE is predicting a return to a critical shortage of pilots as early as 2022 after aviation activity rebounds from the pandemic. While thousands of pilots are furloughed or have lost their jobs since last March, there has also been a lot of natural attrition through retirements and it’s going to get worse. “The percentage of pilots over the age of 50 continues to increase versus the total civil aviation industry pilot pool,” CAE said in its 2020-2029 Pilot Demand Outlook. “Currently, this pilot population age represents a disproportionally high rate.”

CAE says up to 27,000 pilots will be needed as early as the end of 2021 and over the 10 years at least 260,000 vacancies will have to be filled. Airlines are at the top of the food chain and the report says they’ll continue to poach from business aviation and other GA sectors and that will be on top of the 41,000 business pilots who retire. CAE said the furloughs from the pandemic complicate the picture even more as pilots do what’s necessary to survive. “Many of them have pivoted to other professions and might not want to resume their pilot careers,” CAE said. “On the one hand, airlines and operators have reduced the pilot workforce to offset the financial impact of the pandemic. On the other hand, data indicates that the industry will face significant challenges in the upcoming years to meet the demand for pilots.”