The country could be facing a pilot shortage that could result in fewer flights.
Some are also worried this could result in safety concerns as airlines might hire lower-caliber pilots as they struggle to fill slots.
A 57-page congressional report took a closer look at the possibility of a pilot shortage. One local flight instructor says, though, that there is no shortage of pilots, but rather a shortage of pilots who are willing to fly for peanuts.
"My whole family is basically pilots. My cousin is a pilot, my other cousin wants to be a pilot and my mom was a flight attendant, she took me up flying," said Joshua Strahm, a flight instruction student.
Strahm wants to apply for the Air Force training program to one day be a commercial airline pilot. He is one of the few students at Atd Flight Systems taking pilot training for that reason.
"The vast majority of pilots we train here are doing so for recreational purposes," said Chief Instructor Tony Robbins.
More commercial and regional pilots are retiring and fewer students are entering and completing pilot training since 2001. Some studies cite the high cost of education and training as well as low starting pay.
"The regional airlines, it was a standing joke in their training classes that you are not to just show up to apply for WIC in your pilot uniform," Robbins said.
It can cost over $100,000 to receive enough training to get a Federal Aviation Administration certification. Many regional pilot jobs start out paying about $20,000.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office investigated pilot shortage concerns. It found mixed evidence that a shortage is looming.
Eleven of 12 regional airlines reported difficulty filling entry-level vacancies. Five of those airlines reported they could fill only about 50 percent of their hiring targets.
"The major airlines. The airlines that pay well have plenty of resumes on their desk to choose from. The airlines that don't pay well are starting to shut down routes," Robbins said.
The report cites a North Dakota study that found U.S. airlines will experience a shortage of about 34,000 pilots over the next 20 years if no action is taken by the airline industry or the government.
Some airlines are taking action by increasing recruiting and financial incentives. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office report, some experts suggested the government increase financial assistance available to pilot students.
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