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National Pilot Shortage is Impacting Hawaii Travel

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A national pilot shortage is here, according to aviation analysts, and it is starting to impact Hawaii.

Local airlines are looking to hire pilots but whether the Islands have enough resources to train them could be in question.

Congress raised the required commercial pilot retirement age in 2007 from 60 to 65 years old. A former Aloha Airlines captain said that was a good move but a bad sign.

“At 60, we weren’t even eligible for Social Security yet,” said former commercial airline captain John Riddel, “So, I think that was one of the first indicators that there was a impending shortage coming.”

Aviation analysts point out that raising it again is not a solution.

“And they can’t indefinetly keep raising that number because at some point in your sixties, your cognitive function does get impaired somewhat,” said aviation analyst Peter Forman.

Both Forman and Riddel told KHON2 that the number of Hawaii’s designated pilot examiners — the people who test potential pilots — is low.

“The designated examiners very often tend to be airline pilots or people of that nature,” Forman said, “So, they do it as a par-time business and there’s only so much time they can devote to it. It’s certainly possible to have more, but the problem is finding the right people to do it because you don’t want somebody who is too lenient doing the job.”

“So, that’s one of the disadvantages here right now in our state, unfortunately, is that the flight schools are really running short on resources to be able to rain people,” Riddel said.

Hawaiian Airlines said they are looking to hire 75 more pilots by the end of 2023, and more in 2024. Riddel also pointed to United, Delta and Frontier airlines — who all created their own training centers on the mainland.

“This is going to be huge for them because they’re going to create a model pilot from day one, what they’re looking for at United, Delta and Frontier and some of the other companies that are doing this,” Riddel said.

Source : Khon2