ERJ 175 Instrument Panel

Airline Pilot Hiring OutlookCareer Pilot Demand Forecast for 2021

Now is the time to become an airline pilot. Pilots training today face a bright career outlook with several key factors driving demand for qualified pilots.

Download Your FREE Airline Pilot Career Guide »

Pilot Shortage

In its 2020-2040 Aerospace Forecast, the FAA cites the airline pilot shortage as an ongoing issue1. Boeing's Pilot & Technician Outlook projects that 208,000 pilots are needed in North America2.

The major contributing factors fueling the global pilot shortage include:

  • Airline pilot retirements versus pilots training to replace them.
  • Increasing demand for air travel with record numbers of passengers.
Aviation Industry Facing Post-Pandemic Pilot Shortage

Pilot Retirements

Airline pilots are required to retire at age 65, and an aging workforce approaching this mandatory retirement is creating a shortage of airline pilots.

Yearly Retirements at Major Airlines

80,000 Airline Pilots Are Retiring

Over the next 20 years, 80,000 airline pilots are retiring. United Airlines alone estimates half of their 12,500 pilots will retire over the next ten years, and they will need to hire 10,000 pilots over that period to keep pace with growth3. American Airlines has similar projections, with 7,200 of their 15,000 pilots set to retire over the next decade4.

Post-Pandemic Pilot Shortage

Early retirements taken during the coronavirus pandemic are accelerating the demand for new pilots to enter the industry and begin training. By 2023, a shortage of 12,000 pilots is expected due to these COVID-related early retirements, as well as mandatory retirements5.

Request More Information »

Industry Growth

Economic growth has contributed to increasing passenger demand that has exceeded long-term averages6. Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer, all leading aircraft manufacturers, project increasing (even doubling) their commercial jet fleets to account for these demands for air travel by consumers.

Boeing Forecast

Trusted by more than 100 aviation regulatory agencies worldwide, the current Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook concludes that the aviation industry will need to supply more than 763,000 commercial airline pilots worldwide over the next 20 years. Boeing's Current Market Outlook reports that the global commercial jet fleet is projected to double in size by 2039. To meet demand, Boeing forecasts deliveries of over 44,000 new commercial aircraft in the coming years.

Airbus Forecast

Airbus, an international manufacturer of passenger aircraft ranging in size from 100-seat jetliners to the 850 passenger double-deck A380, states in their Global Market Forecast that airline traffic is forecast to double in size in the next 15 years. Airbus believes the small commercial aircraft segment, like the new A220, will represent 76% of the deliveries. Airbus notes that commercial aviation has been resilient to external shocks, with traffic more than doubling in size since 2000.

Embraer Forecast

Embraer is one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. It has produced more than 5,000 aircraft and is the market leader for commercial jets with up to 150 seats. Embraer's Market Outlook projects 10,550 new jet deliveries, with up to 150 seats, over the next 20 years. Embraer foresees worldwide demand for air transport, increasing an average of 4.4% annually through 2038.

Download Your FREE Airline Pilot Career Guide »

Seniority is EverythingGet There First With ATP

Airlines operate on a seniority-based system, where the pilot employed the longest is the highest on the seniority list, enjoying the best schedules, higher pay, and better quality of life. Getting to the airlines as quickly as possible to start building seniority ahead of unprecedented hiring is essential. Students training and earning their certification today will be competitively positioned to capitalize on the pilot shortage and establish their careers.

Get Your Free Airline Pilot Career Guide Download Yours Now — No Obligation

Airline Pilot Career Guide PDF

Free Airline Pilot Career Guide

Get your complete guide on how to become a pilot — Requirements, Pay, Steps and More.

Download Now »

Discover Your Path to the Major Airlines Get There First with ATP

Learn More »

Two pilots walking towards American Eagle ERJ at ATP IWA Training Center

Related FAQs Airline Career Pilot Program

What are the eligibility requirements for becoming an airline pilot?
How do I become a pilot?
How do I become a pilot for United Airlines?
How do I become a pilot for American Airlines?
Do I need a college degree to be a pilot?
How long does it take to become a pilot?
How long does it take to become a commercial airline pilot?
What is airline seniority?
What is a regional airline pilot's salary?
How much does it cost to become a commercial pilot?
What pilot training programs are available?
What is a student pilot certificate?
What is a private pilot license?
What is a commercial pilot license?
How to become a certified flight instructor (CFI)?
How to earn your ATP certificate?
How much do airline pilots make?
What is the current airline pilot hiring outlook?
What are the effects of COVID-19 on the airline industry?
What are the eligibility requirements for becoming an airline pilot?

Summary of educational, medical, legal, certification and qualification requirements to become a commercial pilot and fly for major and regional airlines.

What are the eligibility requirements for becoming an airline pilot? »
How do I become a pilot?

You can become a pilot. Learn how to become a pilot and get your pilot license, including requirements, eligibility, how long it takes, and cost.

How do I become a pilot? »
How do I become a pilot for United Airlines®?

ATP Flight School is the nation’s leader in airline-oriented flight training and has partnered with United to provide ATP students the fastest path to a successful pilot career with United. Learn more about United AviateSM.

How do I become a pilot for United Airlines? »
How do I become a pilot for American Airlines?

Accelerated pilot cadet program, offering a proven path to a pilot career at American Airlines.

How do I become a pilot for American Airlines? »
Do I need a college degree to be a pilot?

The answer to this question is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Learn more about what the college education requirements are to become an airline pilot.

Do I need a college degree to be a pilot? »
How long does it take to become a pilot?

It takes two months to become a private pilot. In two years, you can become a commercial airline pilot. Learn how you can become a pilot with ATP Flight School.

How long does it take to become a pilot? »
How long does it take to become a commercial airline pilot?

Enroll in accelerated flight training with ATP and go from zero experience to a commercial airline pilot, with 1500 hours, in two years. Learn how you can become an airline pilot with ATP Flight School.

How long does it take to become a commercial airline pilot? »
What is airline seniority?

Airlines operate on a seniority-based system. Learn what this means for your career and why getting to the airlines first is important.

Airline seniority explained »
What is a regional airline pilot's salary?

The shortage of pilots qualified to fly for the airlines is causing regional airlines to offer signing bonuses, tuition reimbursement, and other incentives. Learn more about how much you will earn as a pilot.

Compare First-Year Pay at Each Regional Airline »
How much does it cost to become a commercial pilot?

ATP provides up-front, fixed-cost pricing in a way that differentiates us from most other flight schools and academies. With over 30 years of experience, ATP designs our flight training programs with enough flight time for the vast majority of students to be successful.

How much does it cost to become a commercial pilot? »
What pilot training programs are available?

Complete list of aviation courses, flight training, and career pilot programs offered by ATP Flight School.

What pilot training programs are available? »
What is a student pilot certificate?

The student pilot certificate is a requirement in order to fly a powered aircraft by yourself, known as “soloing” in aviation.

What is a student pilot certificate? »
What is a private pilot license?

A Private Pilot License (PPL) is the first major milestone on the road to a career as a pilot. Learn about the private pilot license; including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and how to earn your private pilot license.

What is a private pilot license? »
What is a commercial pilot license?

Learn all about a commercial pilot license, including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and how to earn this pilot license.

What is a commercial pilot license? »
How to become a certified flight instructor (CFI)?

Learn all about earning your flight instructor certification, including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and salary information.

How to become a certified flight instructor? »

Learn all about earning your flight instructor certification, including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and salary information.

How to become a certified flight instructor? »
How to earn your ATP certificate?

An ATP certification will also open a wide array of pilot job opportunities with various corporate and private air carriers. Learn more about the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certification, such as, eligibility requirements and flight experience requirements.

How to Earn Your ATP Certificate? »
How much do airline pilots make?

Flying is a rewarding career, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Pilots undertake intensive training to develop a highly unique skill set. As a result, commercial pilots are paid well.

What is a commercial pilot’s salary? »
What is the current airline pilot hiring outlook?

Commercial airline pilot job career information; airline pilot hiring, pilot salary, retirement numbers, military pilot population reduction and the overall upcoming pilot shortage discussion.

What is the current airline pilot hiring outlook? »
What are the effects of COVID-19 on the airline industry?

Long-term pilot career outlook in response to COVID-19, including long term hiring trends, projections, retirements, and the effects of postponing flight training.

What are the effects of COVID-19 on the airline industry? »