High school in Texas could help deal with pilot shortage

High school in Texas could help deal with pilot shortage

ADDISON, Texas Several airlines are struggling with staffing shortages, which could make flights more expensive this summer. A high school in Texas is working to help deal with the problem in the future.

American Airlines will end service to four cities due to a pilot shortage. As fewer flights become available, those with available seats cost more, said Jonathan Ornstein, CEO of regional carrier Mesa Airlines.

Ornstein said the pilot shortage occurred because many pilots retired during the COVID-19 epidemic, and fewer new pilots have entered the workforce. He cited more restrictions and requirements to gain a pilot certificate as a contributing factor.

Ornstein said that the cost of becoming a pilot has become so great, because you need so many more hours in order to be a pilot. It really limited the ability for anyone who is not a very wealthy person to become a pilot. There is a chance that raising Aviation High School in Addison, Texas could help with this shortage. Brent Fitzgerald, the principal, said that each student graduated with flight hours and a sport, recreational, private or drone pilot's license.

Students come from a high school. They show up at 9 a.m. and they are here for the day. Fitzgerald said that we have flight training built into the day.

The school just completed its first year, and has more than tripled enrollment for the upcoming fall thanks to summer camps where teens can dive into their aviation passions.

Fitzgerald said that the student population will continue to grow as camps continue over the summer and fall.

Two students were born on the first day of the year last year, according to Fitzgerald. That grew to about eight total students for the year. We are already looking at 25 to 30 students. Camper Timmy Aluko said the experience has piqued his aviation interest.

You're literally going to high school in an airport, Aluko said. Fitzgerald said that the opportunities for students are not limited to flying planes. The students could take advantage of all the learning opportunities at the Addison Airport.

Fitzgerald said that there is a huge benefit to being located on the airport. Students can do their flight training, or they can go down the street or across the other side of the airport to work on an internship at a maintenance facility, for example. Mesa Airline s CEO suggested raising the pilot retirement age and allowing pilots certified in other countries to sub for pilots in the U.S. until the pilot shortage issue is less severe.