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Professionally Speaking

The CFI shortage

Demand exceeds supply

The pilot shortage is finally here--and it's beginning to manifest itself as a CFI shortage.

Folks, as mentioned before, the good times are here. So, what does that mean? It means that warm bodies with proper credentials can get jobs as certificated flight instructors, but it also means that sharp CFIs will move up faster than usual.

Military promotions come faster during wartime as sharp people are identified, recognized, and promoted. The same happens in business during periods of high demand. Yes, I did just use that dreaded word, business, but it is a fact. CFIs right now are in a business in which demand exceeds supply. That's great, but it creates problems. Anyone who can help solve those problems will move up rapidly. Regular CFIs will enjoy full employment. Exceptional CFIs have the potential to move up, big time.

This might be a time for many CFIs to reconsider. Do you really want to avoid the business end of the aviation industry? Are you certain that selling is a bad word? Could you improve the efficiency of the fleet a little? You might be well rewarded.

Right now--and in the foreseeable future--managers desperately seek people who can do these things.

I have spoken to business groups from Spain to Hawaii and from Alaska to Puerto Rico. I quite often ask a simple question: "What's your biggest problem?" Without a doubt the most frequent answer is "hiring and keeping good people."

Some people do their jobs. Others do their job and a little bit more. They help solve problems and find opportunities. Those are the people who get ahead.

Look around your flight school. What could be done to generate more billable hours for each airplane and each CFI? Can you offer a profitable solution? A solution that will increase the bottom line by more than it costs?

How could you, personally, get more students? Will it work for all the CFIs? What could you offer that other schools don't offer? (Did you know you can offer a free trial subscription to AOPA Flight Training for every student?)

A known history of solving problems will help tremendously with any path you choose in aviation.

Ralph Hood, an aviation speaker and writer, has been flying since 1971 and has more than 3,000 hours of flight time. He is a multiengine commercial pilot with an instrument rating. Visit his Web site.

By Ralph Hood

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