While pilot certificates are increasing, the aviation industry is still estimated to be 5,000 pilots short, according to a recent analysis from Jefferies Research Services.
Jefferies noted that student certificates increased 54 percent year-over-year in May and were 32 percent above 2019 levels. Meanwhile, private certificates jumped by 54 percent year-over-year in May and similarly are up by 57 percent from the same month in 2019. Commercial certificates were up 47 percent from May 2022 and 32 percent from 2019, while air transport certificates increased 6 percent year-over-year and by 62 percent from 2019.
Through May, the FAA issued 49,500 certificates this year. This is 19 percent more than a year ago and 23 percent higher than 2020 levels. ATP certificates are 57 percent higher than in 2020, which Jefferies said implies a “relative near-term pilot supply coming to the market after two years of depressed certs.”
But according to the analyst’s pilot supply and demand model, the industry is still undersupplied by 4 percent. Further, it forecasts this shortage will jump to 8 percent, or 12,000 pilots, in 2025 and by 9 percent, or 14,000 pilots, by 2030. This accounts for the fact that 16 percent of today’s pilots are between the ages of 60 to 64 and another 17 percent are between 55 and 59. Jefferies further is considering a fleet expansion that would require additional pilots, estimating a 1.4 percent compound annual growth through 2030 on this end.