Industry Standard Pilot Staffing

Audries Aircraft Analysis


Industry Standard Staffing: 5413
Projected Understaffed by 300
Industry Average Staffing Ratio: 14.1


Industry Standard Pilot staffing numbers reflect what the staffing of an airline should be if they had an average staffing level for each aircraft type. For example average A320 staffing in the industry is different than average B777 staffing. This takes into account fleet composition and applies the average level of staffing for the number of aircraft and each kind of aircraft.


Industry Standard Pilot staffing numbers were created by obtaining and averaging the staffing levels at Network carriers and LCC carriers. These numbers were adjusted for various metrics such as medical leave, Instructors, Military leave, and Management. With a correction reasonable staffing averages could be created and compared amongst different carriers.


Users will find Industry Standard Pilot staffing numbers right below the fleet breakdown chart, on each Network and Domestic self branded airline. Airlines not yet incorporated are Regionals, International, and Cargo carriers. Comparing fleet staffing numbers for peers is the reason these arn’t incorporated yet, as the current data is for Network and LCC. For example cargo aircraft staffing is far different than network carrier staffing. This prevents the site from accurately applying these averages to them. However, those numbers should be up soon for Regional, and Cargo carriers.


Using our existing model of current pilot numbers divided by current fleet numbers, to provide a ratio of number of pilots to aircraft has proved inaccurate in some cases. Delta is a great example. Delta currently is slightly overstaffed creating a fat ratio of pilots/aircraft. This fat ratio was being projected throughout the model for the life of the model, causing the forecast to become skewed. With this new system it will allow pilots to be able to see what the airlines relative staffing is to industry average. It will also improve the models accuracy.

What do the numbers mean: The numbers could mean multiple things.

Understaffed :

  • Airline could be understaffed
  • Airline could have poor aircraft utilization and not need average industry staffing per aircraft. This is particularly true when it has come to older airplanes that airlines own, this website has found the utilization of those aircraft might be less than other fleet types or newer versions of the same fleet types.
  • Airline runs aircraft fleet with a very high crew efficiency. This means the airline could be getting more bang for the buck per pilot than other carriers who are at the Industry Average or above it.


  • Airline could be overstaffed
  • Airline could be in the process of significant growth and need the additional pilots to absorb incoming growth.
  • Airline could have better than industry average aircraft utilization and need the additional pilots to fly the aircraft at above average daily block hours.
  • Airline runs fleet with low crew efficiency. Signs of this would be low average block hour per pilot per month.

Ultimately this is just another way to compare airline against airline. If an airline looks overstaffed compared to its competitors this metric allows us to see it, and give better credibility to hiring projections. It also allows Pilots to ask, why is this airline overstaffed, could it be for good reasons or bad.

The opposite applies to carriers that may be understaffed. It gives credence to hiring rumors for understaffed carriers, where as if they are overstaffed it discounts hiring rumors.

If an airline shows as overstaffed the website’s ratio will apply the industry average staffing ratio throughout its hiring model, as a more conservative hiring estimate. On the flipside if an airline is showing understaffed, the website will continue to use the understaffed pilot/aircraft ratio as a more conservative hiring estimate. The whole purpose is to prevent over forecasting the numbers of pilots needed.

In some cases where the over-staffing exists and no other explanation can be determined other than the company is truly fat on pilots, a penalty may be assigned to that airline in the hiring model. This allows the model to reflect a more accurate hiring picture as that airline works through the excess pilots. This penalty will look alot like a furlough penalty.

As a side note- fluctuations of 2-5% on either side of the scale should not be cause for concern due to the cyclical nature of pilot demand throughout the year, in reference to peak season and low season traffic.


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