Airline Pilot Turnover Opens Door for New Pilots to Start Flying - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Airline Pilot Turnover Opens Door for New Pilots to Start Flying

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ELLENSBURG, WA - -

Being a pilot isn't easy these days... In fact the FAA requires pilots to retire at 65. But this has allowed schools like Central Washington University to usher in a new generation of airline pilots.

The aviation industry seems to be growing. An estimated 30 thousand jobs will be open over the next 10 years, and that's just in the united states. But a fix for the shortage may rest here in our own backyard,

For second year aviation student Mychael Hornbeck, the sky is the limit...

"nothing compares to that first flight... Right now, there couldn't be a better time to enter the field of professional aviation..."

Mychael is one of a handful of students studying through CWU's aviation program.

"pilots are starting to retire at a much higher rate, which all together means more pilot slots for prospective students."says Hornbeck

Meaning this group of up and coming pilots will play a special role in their field...

"there are more than one million jobs projected to be opened up for prospective graduates from aviation programs... " says aviation department head Sundaram Nataraja."Now The federal aviation administration has come up with the regulation that all pilots should be retiring at age 65. That is going to open up a lot of space for new pilots to be hired in the industry." continues Nataraja

But it's not just a boom of retirees, commercial airline fleets are expanding too. Central's program is at the forefront of training these soon-to-be pilots. They have numerous flight simulators and a growing interest in the program..

Jason Underhill is a professor of aviation at CWU. He is confident in the expansion if the program and the future of his students.

"we have about 130 students flying. We'll have 20 or so graduates this year, probably 25 to 30 next year and maybe about 35 to 40 the year after that so we are definitely on a growth curve for our students."

Central Washington's program is small... About 150 strong right now, but a greater demand for pilots will take the program to new heights.

The sun is setting for many pilots, but for the up and comers, the future is brighter than ever.

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