A Massachusetts flight school will close one of its two locations later in April—because it cannot find enough qualified certificated flight instructors.
“This problem is not unique to EFA; flight schools across the country are struggling to find suitable CFIs. Two regional airlines have closed in the last month due to lack of qualified pilots,” the flight school said.
Great Lakes Airlines, based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, suspended flights on March 26, stating that it could not find enough pilots. Alaska Airlines subsidiary Horizon Air, canceled more than 300 flights over two months in 2017 for lack of pilots. Republic Airways filed for bankruptcy protection in 2016, citing a pilot shortage.
Executive Flyers said it will continue operations at its Norwood facility, with some of the same staff, airplanes, and training programs as had been offered at Bedford.
Many college programs are struggling to keep up with the demand for flight instructors as well. Some flight students are finding that they need to remain in college an extra semester to complete a rating. A pilot on Reddit shared a letter from Western Michigan University College of Aviation, which stated that the college is losing flight instructors at an unprecedented rate. “Last year we lost 39 out of 55 instructors,” said the letter, which was signed by Russ Kavalhuna, executive director of flight operations at WMU. It takes WMU about a month to replace an instructor because “we refuse to compromise on the caliber of the individual we hire or the quality of standardization training they receive,” he said.
Kavalhuna assured students that WMU has taken steps to address the situation, including offering to pay some instructors to obtain certification to teach the multiengine curriculum. “This is something we never had to contemplate in the past,” he said. “We realize that the new reality of the pilot shortage requires new solutions.” The college continues to search for two full-time multiengine instructors, he said, but noted that “it has been a struggle to find qualified, experienced multiengine instructors who have not already opted for the financial gains of the airlines, or who have been turned down by airlines for reasons that also stop us from hiring them as your instructors.”