Pilot shortage could affect your next flight

Published: May. 9, 2017 at 6:56 PM CDT
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"You can't fly an airplane without pilots," The manager of the North Platte Regional Airport, Mike Sharkey, said.

It's a growing issue in the aviation industry.

"Small airports and airlines are hurting now, but we are hearing It's climbing up the chain," Sharkey said.

A pilot shortage has been seen across the nation.

A few years ago, congress passed regulations, that Sharkey says, created complicated and costly requirements for someone who wants to be hired an airline.

They restrict pilots to have a certain amount of hours in the air, plus mandatory rest hours. "It has made a big, big difference as trying to set up a schedule for the three cities Pen Air took on in Nebraska," Sharkey said.

Sharkey said this leads to delays with Pen Air, which covers multiple destinations en-route to Denver.

Another reason could be the price tag, and training to become a pilot.

"Like I said, it's literally drying up the pilot pool. It is drying up the pilot pool and there is no source for the pilot with the ATP, and the hours that come with it, and all the other things required," Sharkey said.

Sharkey said these regulations need to be looked at again.

"When the big boys start hurting, and they start lobby for change, they probably will, but hopefully it won't be too late for us by then," Sharkey said.

Because of the shortage, pilots are able to move up the chain quicker, and land a job at a medium or large airline. Pen Air is working on incentives and training programs to keep their pilots. "There's very high demand now, for pilots up the food change, so as soon they are hired and trained, they are gone," Sharkey said.

Great Lakes Airlines went through similar pilot shortage issues.

Sharkey said just last month, around 8 flights were cancelled due to crew problems.

Passengers who've experienced delays, or canceled flights, say nonetheless, they're still pleased with the services. "Very good, very good, very punctual. I've been very satisfied, very good service," Hernando Salcedo, a Pen Air customer, said.

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