Andrew Chan

Inverness, Florida

Right Rudder Aviation

Is Aviation Becoming Too Inaccessible?

A few years back, you may have received word of a pilot shortage in the aviation industry. While that is still a relevant concern, there is a more overarching issue that should be addressed - the lack of accessibility in aviation, mainly due to excessive cost. According to ATP Flight School, “It costs $83,995 to become a pilot when starting with no previous experience or $65,995 when starting with a private pilot certificate.” Many individuals reading that would be very sticker shocked by that cost analysis, especially an 18 year old looking for a career-path. The reality of the situation is it realistically only costs about 50% of that at a traditional flight school that is not trying to capitalize on such a high price-tag markup on training. Aviation should not be a post-retirement bucket list item or solely for the uber wealthy. A recent article by Flight Global says, “Despite an industry slump that has seen mass pilot lay-offs, the global civil aviation industry will still require an estimated 27,000 new pilots by the end of 2021, or 264,000 over the coming decade.” Okay, so the demand is there even amidst a global pandemic. Now the issue is, where are the young aviators?

Young Pilot Shortage

According to an article written by the Denver post, “As airlines lose pilots who are aged out of the system, the bench of waiting replacements is not deep enough to keep up. And it will be an uphill climb for the industry to staff cockpits as more than 200,000 new pilots will be needed in North America alone over the next two decades.” Many young people may entertain the idea of becoming a pilot, whether it be for fun or as a career...until they start adding up the numbers for cost, the barrier-to-entry into even starting to make money in aviation, and that dream gets thrown away as they move onto something else that is more “sustainable”. As an 18-25 year old, it can be especially difficult to front the money to obtain a pilot certificate. There are financing options available, but an 18-year old aspiring aviator still runs into the same type of hurdles (i.e. how does an 18 year old with no credit find financing for such a large loan?)

The Solution

Right Rudder Aviation (RRA), a flight school located in Inverness, Florida took notice of this trend in the industry and has developed programs to help mitigate this issue. The goal is to make flight training accessible to everyone. By specifically carving a niche in the aviation world with an all-inclusive glider training package, the costly barrier to entry in aviation has been solved. The training is done in the Pipistrel Alpha Trainer, a motor glider equipped with Garmin G3X Touch. The Alpha flies like an airplane with the engine on and soars like a glider with the engine off. Gliding in the Alpha is as simple as shutting down the engine. Training in a brand new aircraft, while minimizing the cost for the student, has been extremely exciting for aspiring aviators and instructors alike. The program includes everything necessary to become an FAA certified Private Pilot - Glider for just $2,999. This package is also a great stepping stone in the world of aviation, specifically because of the accessibility of both cost and time. Many students that have started in the Alpha Trainer motor glider have asked “what’s next?” For some, this may mean a career in aviation. Pilots can become a Certified Flight Instructor and already have a career in aviation with a minimum of 25 flight hours. Tommy Soto, a PP-G instructor at RRA became an instructor in 44 hours and is successfully teaching students to date. That is significantly less hours required to commit than the 250 minimum for the commercial - airplane certificate.

There are additional opportunities that open up through acquiring the PP-G certificate. One is the opportunity to “apply” hours that were done in the motor glider to subsequent certificates, such as a Private Pilot - Airplane certificate. 10 hours of the 40 total hours can be done in the glider. There are ways to use time in the motor glider towards other certificates such as a Commercial Pilot - Airplane certificate. Up to 200 of the 250 total hours towards the commercial certificate can be done in the motor glider, for example. Now more than ever, becoming an aviator is much more accessible and RRA is at the forefront of this new approach to flight training. If you have always dreamed of becoming a pilot, this is a very real solution to the cost-problem in aviation.
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