Number of pilot jobs may soar - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Number of pilot jobs may soar

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A projected shortage of pilots in the aviation industry has airlines looking to hire.

Recent forecasts show by the year 2029, the airline industry plans to hire nearly half a million pilots worldwide. Numbers show plans for more than 97,000 in North America; 94,000 in Europe; 180,000 in Asia and 100,000 throughout the rest of the world.

This is good news for students at University of Dubuque's aviation program.

"I love the big planes," UD sophomore Brian Arbuckle said Tuesday, while conducting his pre-flight check of a Piper Seminole. "I'd love to be a 747 pilot, flying from the US over to some international country and back."

Through UD's aviation program, his dream may take flight, but it isn't a cheap one.

"I know I'll have a lot of debt, but in the long run, I see that if I stay in the industry, which I plan to do, I can make good money," Arbuckle said.

It's money he may use to pay off debt.

"I have to take out loans because I don't have the money just to throw out," he said.

Students generally need to log at least 500 hours of flight time to be considered for a job as a pilot, and fuel is expensive.

"This is a tough business in the sense that it is a lot of hours, it is a lot of training," UD aviation program director Steve Accinelli said Tuesday on the UD quad.

He said the jobs forecast for pilots could be hindered, depending on the price of fuel and the economy.

"When the economy is good, aviation is exceptional," he said. "When the economy is poor, there's a tendency to furlough a lot of folks, but that may not be as critical, given the shortages we are forecasting on the horizon."

A national law signed in December of 2007 pushed the age of required retirement of certain pilots in international operations from 60 to 65. That means that in December of 2012, those people will be turning 65 and required to retire, opening jobs for new pilots.

Overall, Accinelli said, student who work hard will find a job. He said the job placement rate at UD's aviation program is nearly 100 percent.

"You have to have kind of a love of this business to stay the course," he said.

It's a love that Arbuckle has in abundant supply.

"My parents always tell me to settle down and enjoy college, but I just want to get out there and get into that job that I've always dreamed of," he said.

The University of Dubuque is planning on getting a jet simulator, which would be up and running later this semester. Accinelli said it's all part of increasing students' training before they graduate.

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