Consumer Alert: New FAA regulations could lead to pilot shortage

Flight instructors warn of pilot shortages, cancelled routes, higher prices

Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:51:11 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 28 2013 04:28:58 AM EST
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ORLANDO, Fla. -

It can be frustrating to fly between the long security lines, lost luggage and late flights.

Local 6 has confirmed there's a new problem headed our way, and it may make flying even worse: a shortage of pilots and that could mean more flight cancellations and even higher ticket costs.

Orlando International moves more than 2 million people every month. But airline industry experts are warning things in Orlando and at every other airport in the country may start to slow down, over the next few years because there won't be enough quality pilots to fly.

The Federal Aviation Administration now has new rules about who can take the controls.

Aaron Stinson owner of The Flight School, Inc. said, "The FAA wants the general public to be more safe, the more qualified the pilot, the more safe you're going to be."

Flight instructors tell us it's all about experience. As of this summer, the FAA is requiring all commercial pilots to have 15-hundred flight hours before they can fly for an airline.

That's a huge increase.  In fact, it’s six times more than what beginning pilots needed in the past so flight schools are scrambling to pump out pilots.

Flight instructor John VanPaasschen said, "We need 10,000 a year.  According to the FAA over the next 10 years. so I'm holding them longer so they're not going to the airline."

This chief instructor says he's had to change the way he teaches and so has Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

The dean there tells us they've had to beef up the courses, so this latest round of student pilots will meet the new FAA requirements.

But those students won't graduate until 2017.

Combine that with a wave of pilots *retiring, all at once, competition from *international carriers, trying to lure them away,  and of course the high cost of flight school.  A license starts at 25-thousand-dollars.

"So you combine that all up with the flying the general public does and in the next 2 or 3 years we foresee a pretty good shortage happening depending upon the economics piece of it,” said Stinson.

Embry Riddle says it’s working on an incentive package, and looking to buy a new simulator all to attract new students and make more pilots.

The Airline Pilots Association does not agree with the prediction.  They say the shortage is exaggerated.

The FAA could dial back the new rules a little from 15-hundred flight hours down to a thousand, but keep in mind, that's still a lot, and takes a long time to get.