Recently, major news outlets have carried many reports that we are in the midst of a "pilot shortage," and that commercial airlines are desperate to secure more qualified professionals to steer their planes over the coming years.
Last week, CNN ran a story alleging that the question of how to find enough pilots to satisfy mainstream aviation needs is one with repercussions "around the globe."
However, it's possible that these stories are giving the wrong impression about the situation, and that the airline industry may not be in the crisis that these headlines suggest. Or if it is, that it's at least more complicated.
The Associated Press, citing information from the Government Accountability Office, questioned the nature of the "shortage."
Although there will apparently need to be thousands of pilots hired within the coming decade to make up for the retiring generation, the amount of applicants looking for work with major airlines doesn't seem to be an issue.
In other words, the industry has access to potential pilots: it's just a matter of whether or not they can be successfully recruited. Several factors, like wages and training requirements, can impact the hiring process.
So whether the issue is on the part of regulations that are too tight or underutilization of existing pilots, the problem (if there is one) does not appear to be black and white.
Airplane charter services that have an established pool of reliable operators to draw from may be able to offer travelers more certainty amid all of the confusion.