Industry Average Staffing

Over the last couple of years, as this website has developed and continued to refine Airline Pilot hiring models, the site is now adding Industry Standard Staffing Analysis. You will be able to find this in the middle of most major airline profiles.

For a better explanation please see the following page. For a story line of this development keep reading.

About a year ago as the site started the hiring model the projections for future Pilot Demand were based upon Retirements/Attrition and the number of pilots needed/not needed due to projected fleet growth/shrinkage. The number of pilots due to fleet growth/shrinkage was computed based upon the current number of Pilots to the current number of aircraft in the fleet.

At first this snapshot worked fine, but overtime I realized that if the “snapshot” of required staffing was taken when the Airline was understaffed or overstaffed, the understaffed/overstaffed condition would be projected throughout the model. This added a level of inaccuracy to the model. For example if an overstaffed airline was showing a current staffing ratio of 16.9 pilots for every aircraft, and that ratio was applied into the future as the fleet saw additional growth, it would overestimate the number of new pilots required. The same applies for understaffed snapshots.

In an attempt to correct for this the website and volunteers started to accumulate the actual staffing ratio per individual fleet types at each airline. The goal to obtain an average staffing value for each aircraft type amongst similar airlines. So, unless the whole industry was fat or short on a particular fleet type, it would be much more difficult to hide an overstaffed/understaffed condition. The outliers in the industry should average themselves out.

It is true that some operators may run more efficiently or run longer range legs and thus naturally need more pilots, and vice verse. But it is rare to see a particular fleet type such as a B747 being used for only short domestic hops by one airline, and another airline using them for only intercontinental flights. For the most part the continuity in the efficiency and type of flying among fleet types is close enough that it makes for a pretty good estimate. This is especially true the larger the sample size’s are, ie ignoring specialty operators.

So armed with the required staffing number for each fleet type, including industry average leave, military leave, and Instructor percentages we can calculate what an airline most likely needs in regards to pilot staffing. The projection being based more upon its fleet composition instead of a current snapshot. Even though the numbers are not conclusive (considering there are other factors at work) I believe they are a beneficial tool in gauging how understaffed or overstaffed an airline is.

Most likely, an overstaffed or understaffed condition by a couple hundred pilots either way at a given airline will not mean a whole lot. However, if we see an airline like Delta is showing to be 700-800 pilots overstaffed in comparison to everyone else, then there might be something to it. Most likely these airlines will need to work through these extra pilots before they start to hire again.

Look for corrections from these new staffing models to start find their way into the Hiring Demand charts in the next couple of months. As always please feel free to send additional questions or comments below in the comments section or at





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