DOT Creates Forces to Flyers, a Solution to Ease U.S. Pilot Shortage
The Department of Transportation has recognized a major pilot shortage in our country and has put a plan in place to try and recover this issue. The program they have created, called Forces to Flyers, recruits military veterans to become commercial airline pilots by providing the training and cost to obtain the Air Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.
The DOT believes the expense to obtain these flying hours is what is contributing to this pilot shortage. The qualifying hours needed to be eligible for the ATP certificate went up significantly in 2013. The flight regulations were increased to a 1,500-hour flight time requirement, which is a huge jump from the previous 250 hours needed for pilots to join regional carriers (where they start their careers). While the regulation put in place essentially protects passengers by putting their lives in the hands of more experienced pilots, it made the requirements harder and even more costly for potential pilots, steering them to take a different career path.
The Forces to Flyers program can help the U.S. continue to be a world front-runner in aviation while also providing military veterans with rewarding new careers. For veterans that struggle with their transition to their next job, this could be an incredible opportunity for them. The DOT will offer training to vets up to the point where they become licensed as commercial flight instructors. From there, they can obtain the remaining hours needed with paid flight instructor jobs.
With the Regional Airline Association estimating a shortage of up to 19,000 pilots by year 2020, the DOT is hoping to repair this issue now and bring that number down significantly. The program will initially accept up to 40 veterans, with hopes to get it rolling by mid-2018.