Are You Prepared for the Upcoming Worldwide Shortage of Airplane Pilots?

I hope you've been stockpiling water, batteries and solar-powered Netflix streaming generators, because the end is nigh. Or at least in 20 years it might be more dangerous to fly due to a massive shortage of qualified pilots. So maybe don't worry about the batteries but get your pilot's license instead?

The AP reports that Boeing is predicting 465,000 new pilots will be necessary by 2031, with 69,000 needed in North America alone. Between growing economies and airlines increasing their fleets by thousands of planes, experts see the shortage as inevitable and potentially dangerous.

"I'm concerned because it has safety implications," John Allen, the Federal Aviation Administration's director of flight services, told The Associated Press.

Allen said he wants to spur a discussion among industry, labor unions, and academia about a potential shortage that will "really look at this and address it, not to just sweep it under the rug ... Is this a problem? And, if it is a problem, how bad is it?"

He said he is fearful that if there is a shortage, airlines will hire pilots who are technically qualified but don't have the "right stuff."

"If the industry is stretched pretty thin ... that can result in someone getting into the system that maybe isn't really the right person to be a pilot. Not everybody is supposed to be a pilot," Allen said.

If only there were a recent story about a pilot not having the "right stuff." Anyway, there's also the issue of the greedy military childishly hogging all the good pilots.

At the same time, the pool of military-trained pilots that airlines have relied upon in the past has largely dried up as more pilots choose to remain in the military rather than seek airline careers, industry officials said. That means airlines have had to rely on new hires that have accumulated their experience at flight schools and, later, working as flight instructors at local airports and the flight schools.

And man, did you know how insanely pricey it is to become a pilot? It almost makes law school seem like a good option.

"The cost of getting into flying is very expensive," Davis said. "When I talk to college students, if they're coming out of a 4-year collegiate (aviation) program most of them are $150,000 -to- $160,000 in debt. And that only gives them the qualifications to go be a flight instructor. If you're making $20,000 a year as a flight instructor you're lucky."

The shit's already hit the fan in Asia.

"In many regions of the world, a pilot shortage is already here," the Boeing forecast said. "Asia Pacific in particular is experiencing delays and operational interruptions due to pilot scheduling constraints."

No reports on looting or increased bitching by overly entitled travellers, but I'm sure it's imminent. And it gets worse. They also need technicians for all those planes?

Likewise, Boeing predicts 601,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians will be needed over the same period, with greatest demand - 243,500 technicians - in the Asia-Pacific region. An estimated 92,500 new technicians will North America.

That's it, you guys. In a few years there will be no more flying. We'll just have to walk or take expensive taxis everywhere.

[Image via Shutterstock]