Valley flight schools attract future pilots from around the world

PHOENIX - A pilot shortage is being felt around the world-- and it could be more serious than previously reported, according to the Government Accountability Office.

As the airline industry booms, Boeing reported nearly 500,000 new commercial airline pilots are needed. They’re needed the most in China.

The GAO report estimates airlines will need to hire up to 4,500 new pilots in the United States by 2024.

That could mean fewer commercial flights.

But here in the Valley, hundreds of pilots are training to meet that demand.

TransPac Aviation Academy is one of the largest flight schools in North America.

Small airplanes come and go at TransPac seven days a week.

Student pilots from around the world are training to be commercial airline pilots.  

90 percent of them are international, mostly from Asia.

Some student pilots will stay here in the United States; others take their skills back home with them.   

Many instructors at TransPac move on to teach at domestic commercial airline companies.

Before students get to test their skills on the runway, instructors help them learn how to fly on simulators.

TransPac Aviation Academy CEO Stephen Goddard says they run an intense program.

“We're not teaching them to fly small aircraft. We're using small aircraft to teach them how to fly airliners,” he said.

They teach both students and instructors at the academy.  

“We have wonderful weather here, we have a great aviation infrastructure that's here. So when you combine those two together, it makes for a really special training experience that's very hard to replicate anywhere else in the world,” Goddard said.

The student pilots train for a year to 16 months.

As for the pilot shortage itself, the GAO report shows it's because of low starting wages and an increase in retiring pilots.


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