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The Original Pilot Projection Model from this website

Depended entirely upon mainline retirement attrition, and airline growth/reduction to power the cascading movement of pilots through the model. As one of the model’s weaknesses in its simplicity it assumed that 100% of pilots came from the regional airlines to feed the major airlines. As a simple model it worked well to illustrate/test a more extreme scenario where all the pilots the major/legacy/nationals would need came from the regional carrier group. From the beginning it was known that this simply was not a completely accurate representation of what would happen, hence the weakness in simplified models.

The following are helpful observations of what’s really happening verse the simplified model on the website.

Military Pilots 

The model currently leaves out this important hiring element to simplify the model. This was partly due to the unknown nature of the military hiring pool. Many analysts from the shortage mentality assumed there would be little to few military pilots available to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for pilots among these carriers. What we know now is that there are many qualified military pilots interested in working for the airlines and they represent a significant chunk of those pilots actually being hired. This reality has a large impact on the accuracy of the pilot projection model on this website. If the pilot positions at the majors are being filled by military pilots, that naturally affects the downstream opportunities for other pilots seeking those positions thus slowing the demand and progression from what is currently being reflected on the model (This is very important to keep in consideration)..

Corporate Pilots 

Similarly to Military pilots, this was an element purposefully overlooked in the simplification of this hiring model. Historically, Corporate pilots have been successful at obtaining National or Major airline positions, and this does have an impact on pilot movement that is not reflected in the current model.

Pilot Movement from Airline to Airline 

In this simplified model we have assumed that pilots move from Regional to Legacy/National. This is an oversimplification. Pilots often move from Regional to National to Legacy as well as Regional to Legacy. As HR teams at many of the National carriers have discovered, the opportunities for positions at the Legacy airlines have caused them to experience attrition beyond what would have been expected with Age 65 retirements. Pilot positions at the Major airlines filled by National carrier pilots, can slow the attrition experienced by regional airlines.

The motivation among pilots to leave to other airlines is different at different carriers. 

The pilot attrition numbers reflected on the regional airline pages are an average based upon the percent size they represent of the regional industry. All things being equal among regional airlines it is what the model would predict for attrition. However, all things are not equal. Some regional airlines are experiencing high growth providing upgrade and seniority progression opportunity, while other regional airlines are facing significant reductions. Naturally, the airlines with a more stormy future or more uncomfortable present will see regional attrition higher, possibly much higher than industry average attrition, while regional airlines with relatively content pilots could see less than industry average attrition.

As a summary, as pilots view these online reports please keep in mind these four factors not yet reflected in the pilot demand model.

  1. Military Pilots that fill Major and National pilot positions.
  2. Corporate Pilots that fill Major and National pilot positions.
  3. Pilot Movement around the industry may not be simply from regional to major.
  4. The motivation to seek employment may be higher among some carriers compared to others.

Each of these factors has a tendency to skew reality from the model, and in many cases reduce pilot attrition among some carriers.

For now it is safe to say that for good pilot positions there are plenty of willing pilots. For those pilots who seek to be hired at the Majors and most National carriers an extremely competitive hiring environment should be expected. This reality is evidenced by the fact that the few career fairs available for pilots to meet Major and National recruiters have quickly sold out.

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