Info on "New Pilots" entering the industry

Toonces

Well-Known Member
I know you can look at how many student pilot certificates were given out by the FAA, but that doesn't tell the whole story. I know there is a boatload of foreign students here in the U.S for training. I am sure their names will be taken into account on the list of student pilots. What I would like to know is if there has been a significant decline in the number of U.S students in the last few years. Any of you instructors and major pilot factories feel free to chime in with your take on the situation.

It would be nice if this "pilot shortage" would come to fruition. I am pretty skeptical it will however. I was thinking with the cost of training skyrocketing and credit tightening up, that it may be cutting down on the fresh meat.

Your thoughts please.
 

berge7f9

Well-Known Member
I was an instructor at ERAU in Daytona from August 06 to March 07 before I got into my present job. The summer of 06 was the first time since 9/11 that there was increase in students, aircraft, instructors. Before that period, the ramp had been getting smaller and smaller. I dont know what things are like now.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
While I"m not sure the "pilot shortage" will ever come to fruition, I can say that the ramps at airports are getting quieter with respect to Americans learning to fly. You see very few people getting their PPL for fun, and many who are on a professional pilot training program are not American.

I can assure you that state of the economy, cost of fuel, tightening of credit, and poor (by many people's view) job market contribute to the lack of student pilot certificates issued.
 

Toonces

Well-Known Member
While I"m not sure the "pilot shortage" will ever come to fruition, I can say that the ramps at airports are getting quieter with respect to Americans learning to fly. You see very few people getting their PPL for fun, and many who are on a professional pilot training program are not American.

I can assure you that state of the economy, cost of fuel, tightening of credit, and poor (by many people's view) job market contribute to the lack of student pilot certificates issued.
I don't know your background, but have you been instruction for several years? Any input is appreciated, however I would really like to hear from longtime instructors. I am curious how the landscape in the training world has changed over the last decade or so.
 

HeyEng

NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
Just from my observations at a couple of schools here in SAT...

The most of the students I have seen are international, at least at the more "structured" schools. The small FBO around here is fairly busy with Americans, but most are just doing the PPL and not looking to fly professionally. The costs associated with flying are getting higher while the return on said investment is dwindling. Although I am not sure that there will EVER be a true shortage, I think there will be a reduction in those that just "wanna fly a shiny jet" and actually stick with it until the end. You can see how many people are punching out now, and it certainly isn't as bad as it has been in the past. Of course, no one knows what is truly going to happen, so as has been said SO many times...if you wanna fly, understand the risks and rewards and just go for it.
 

Blip16

Well-Known Member
So is that a real decrease in U.S students or did you just get more foreign ones?

If you don't mind me asking, where are you at?
UND

We wouldn't have the need for 40% of our 200 instructors (200 at any time is normal) if we didn't have the contracts, we will just leave it at that. flying is just getting too expensive if you aren't getting it paid for by a company. Our actual enrollment is down a bit, but not 40%
 

Boris Badenov

Just running in to a burning house...
Datapoint:

I quit instructing six years ago. I had worked for three school at that time. Not one of them is still around.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
I am not a long time instructor, and simply shared my observations/ thoughts to date. Perhaps some of the longer tenured CFI's can better answer this.
 

Blip16

Well-Known Member
I am not a long time instructor, and simply shared my observations/ thoughts to date. Perhaps some of the longer tenured CFI's can better answer this.
i started instructing 2 years ago. costs 2 years ago were A LOT cheaper than they are today. costs 5 years ago when i was training was A LOT cheaper than 2 years ago. i think the cost of a Warrior here has gone from around 75-80/hr (brand new!) to over 100 (maybe 115 or so with fuel surcharge?) instruction went from 30ish to 47.

14 months ago there wasn't a single contract student here, now maybe 150-200 are either here now or have gone thru (there are more than 100 current now i think), with A LOT more coming in 2 months (maybe then it will be over 200 for sure) we only have something like 800 undergraduates, and i think that is down from last year (but i haven't seen the numbers so i don't know for)

Air China has over 1,000 students currently training in the USA. I think a lot of the training around the country is foreign, i know there are still people learning, but not as many as the foreigners who are doing it because when they go home they start heavy iron.
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
<rant>

I'm skeptical of the reasons many people give for the declining state of the flight training industry.

"Prices are too high" is the one I hear the most. I honestly believe that price is only a factor if we tell people it is. Flying always has been and always will be expensive. It's always taken a certain amount of sacrifice to do it.

The problem I see is that flight schools, as a whole, have done a lousy job of promoting themselves. We tell people all the reasons why they *shouldn't* become pilots. It's too expensive, it's too technical, it's dangerous, there's no use for it after you get your license, yada yada yada...

A lot of flight schools do little to no advertising, have beat up old planes from the 1970s, have a revolving door for their staff, instructors who don't know the first thing about customer service, and then everybody acts surprised when customers don't beat down the doors! It's crazy...is it really that much of a shock when places like this go out of business?

A short story for you...one of the customers who has been training for the past couple months at my flight school recently told us about his experience with our closest competitor before he found us. He said he met an instructor at the other place and said he wanted to learn how to fly. The first thing the instructor said was, "You know it's going to be expensive, right?" The guy, who is a successful businessman, said, "Ok." Then the instructor said, "And you know it's pretty technical, right?" So the guy, who I must say is pretty darn sharp, said, "Ok." They talked for a few minutes, he got the feeling the CFI wasn't going to help him become a pilot, so he thanked him for his time and left. Eventually he found our school and is doing fine, but it blows me away to hear stories like this first encounter at an airport. What are some people thinking? Is that kind of talk seriously expected to grow the industry?

So I guess what I'm saying with this lengthy post is that I believe a large chunk of our decline in student pilots (and to answer the OP, yes, I do believe there has been a decline in student pilots over the years), is caused by our own incompetence with marketing flight training, rather than external factors outside of our control.

No matter if people want to fly for business, pleasure, a career, or all of the above, we need to do a better job of convincing them that it's possible, rather than telling them that it's a lost cause and they're better off driving.

</rant>
 

TXaviator

Well-Known Member
jrh - i totally agree with your post. from someone who has background in promotions, marketing, and advertising, im AMAZED that a lot of these flight schools stay in business more than a month or two, or that anyone would even notice theyre gone.
 

flyboywbl

3rd regional in 1 year
Our flight school had 25 new students last year with about a 20% wash out. This year there were 50 students signed up in July and now i think there is about 40. With the loan situation the way it is today, I don't know what the wash out rate will be, but I'll bet it'll be higher than last year. Still it's pretty strong. ATP schools put in an order for 20 D-Jets so I'm sure they are anticipating a steady flow of students.

When i started in the flight school last year, the head of the program told me that this is the best time to be a pilot because all the old fighter pilots are retiring from the airlines. Now with 300 hours under my belt and almost a CFI I've learned that the good jobs are hard to come by and you need tons of time to get them. looking back on it now if the recruiter/head of the program told me how hard it was to get that job with the 250,000 dollar a year salary i probably would not of gone through with it.

I don't regret it though I'm having a blast. I just got my spin endorsement today and that was a trip!!! The poor little attitude indicator was spinning in circles for a good 5 minutes after shutdown. If only a CFI got paid a little more i would want to do it for a while. You get to come home to your family every night.

Not to get too off topic, but all in all it seems pretty steady. I could not compare it to what it was like 5-10 years ago though because i was not flying then. It would make sense to me though, if people can't get loans then they won't fly so there will be fewer "wet" pilots.
just my .02

-Matt
 

kellwolf

Piece of Trash
When i started in the flight school last year, the head of the program told me that this is the best time to be a pilot because all the old fighter pilots are retiring from the airlines.

Yeah, I heard that same line 8 years ago from what was the Comair Academy. Wasn't 100% true, and it's not 100% true now. IMO, the big flight schools just want your money. They don't care if you become a safe, accomplished pilot or even if you get good quality instruction. They just want you through the program to make way for the next guy with the Sallie Mae papers filled out and ready to go.

As an instructor, I always tried to come up with a ball park price (with a little extra added on just in case) for my students at the front end. If they felt that was too much, we'd work on trying to trim it down using the sim or web sites instead of books. I never really harped on the price b/c I'm a "glass half full" type of guy, I guess.
 

Murdoughnut

Well sized member
AOPA wants us to motivate people to start flying, but as I tell people when they ask - "don't get into it unless you're someone who can't live without it". As much as I love flying, there's a part of me that secretly wishes my medical would get pulled, and I wouldn't be able to justify the money I spend on it anymore.

The worst part about this is that those who do get their license won't be able to afford to fly very often. Once per month just isn't enough. I imagine if you dig deeper into some of the more recent accidents, you'll see that phenomena. My friend who killed himself and his parents in the plane we co-owned was only going up once a month or so. He had asked me to take a flight with him that was supposed to be three days after the accident because he said he didn't feel comfortable flying alone.
 

Blip16

Well-Known Member
well between 2005 and 2007, we flew 10,000 hours less than 2005. 68,000 down to 58,000 hours. student enrollment is down, contracts are up so it seems similar, but overall normal student enrollment is down a lot.
 

navymmw

Well-Known Member
I have a quick question. Right now im a Junior in high school and basicly the only way I wont go to the airlines is if I fail my medical. Anyway what im trying to ask is if it is a good thing for people like me that the flight schools have alot more contract students from foriegn countrys?
 

splash

your social justice comic center
well between 2005 and 2007, we flew 10,000 hours less than 2005. 68,000 down to 58,000 hours. student enrollment is down, contracts are up so it seems similar, but overall normal student enrollment is down a lot.
That is a good thing. CFIs need to get better as a whole and professional pilots can barely breath now as it is. There is no reason why professional pilots need to be standing in the unemployment lines. There will never be a shortage of pilots anytime soon and that is why pilot pay really stinks because someone trying to get in the door is always willing to do the job for less or just for flight time alone. As I said before it's cut throat. Don't buy into the old rapid military pilot retire thing.

What is the reason for AOPA wanting people to motivate others to start flying when the industry is flooded with pilots and much, so much cheaper to drive for the private pilot going on vacation once a year or just playing around?
 
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