As the world slowly falls into the “Pilot Shortage” the unspoken rotorwing world also seeing a shortage of pilots.
Within the U.S. We have 15,000 helicopter pilots according to Robbie Paul, assistant chief flight instructor at Southern Utah State University in Cedar City, Utah.
Paul has told the magazine company “Flying” that there is a greater need for helicopter pilots then fixed wing pilots.
“We’re going to be about 7,500 pilots short over the next 18 years and in an industry that only has about 15,000 active pilots, that represents a huge, huge shortage.” Paul said. SUU is having problem training pilots. ““It’s easier to grow the fixed wing flight training side because people know there’s a shortage there, but there hasn’t been much talk about the helicopter side. A recent HAI study delves into the specifics of the actual helicopter pilot shortage that should prove eye opening to perspective rotary pilots.”
When it comes to jobs, Paul said, “We’re trying to get pilots into the emergency medical service (EMS) world by working with AirMethods the largest EMS operator. We’ve been working on getting the hour requirement down for that first job, but it still takes about 1,000 total time to make that leap to the first helicopter flying job.”
While training and cost of it on the fixed wing side is expensive, on the helicopter side it’s much more worse, including larger helicopters.
SUU operates a fleet of Robinsons as well as two Bell Long Rangers. To help shave some of the financial burden from students, he said “what we need are more scholarships. Here at EAA we just announced an agreement with Whirly Girls, a group that’s been around for 63 years promoting women flying helicopters and SUU to provide three $20,000 scholarships to come learn to fly helicopters.”
Paul added that, “Some big helicopter companies have reduced their flight time requirements considerably due to the shortage. Pilots also don’t need an ATP to fly helicopters commercially like they do on the Part 121 airline side of the industry.”