Airline pilots worldwide - average age 2016

Airline pilots in the Americas are younger than those in other regions, with an average age of 48 years. This compares to Europe, which has the youngest average age of 43.7 years.

The U.S. pilot shortage

The higher average age of pilots in the Americas is related to the current pilot shortage in the United States. U.S. pilot numbers have been steadily dropping since the 1990’s, although there has been a slight increase in recent years. As is to be expected from such a figure, this is correlated to an underlying decline in the number of student pilots, increasing the average age through fewer young pilots entering the workforce. Two reasons are generally given to explain the U.S. pilot shortage. First is the decrease in pilot wages following industry deregulation, making the career less attractive to young people. Second is the increased difficulty of obtaining pilot training. The advent of drones has reduced the demand for pilots in the military (previously a fertile recruiting ground for commercial airlines), while the cost of private flight training can exceed 100,000 U.S. dollars.

Global pilot demand

While the pilot shortage in the United States is the most acute, all regions are expected to have high demand for new pilots over the next decade. This is likely to create even more pressure on the U.S. pilot shortage through increased global competition for what pilots are available. Already some effects of this are starting to be seen, with high wages designed to attract international pilots being offered in places like the China and the Middle East.

Average age of airline pilots in 2016, by region

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