Skip to main content

With pilot shortage on radar, more aviation students landing in Mankato

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The demand for pilots is growing – and so is the number of aviation students heading to MSU Mankato.

The Minnesota State University program is the state's only four-year bachelor's degree program in aviation. MPR News reports the enrollment of 176 students is a jump of 60 percent compared to four years ago.

It's quite a reversal for a program that was nearly shut down five years ago. St. Cloud State stopped offering aviation degrees in 2010 and the coordinator of Mankato's program tells MPR they were on the chopping block, too, but were saved by a surge of community support.

MSU's profile within the industry also seems to be taking off.

The university announced at the start of this month that its aviation program has been accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International, a distinction held by fewer than 40 schools in the country, according to the Board's website.

Why a pilot shortage?

A wave of retirements is one reason the demand for pilots is growing. 65 is a mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots and lots of baby boomers are near that age. MPR says the Air Line Pilots Association expects 21,000 U.S. retirements in the next 10 years.

Stricter requirements for becoming a pilot are another factor. The Motley Fool notes that a federal change a few years ago upped the flight time needed to become a copilot from 250 hours to 1,500 hours. USA Today says regional airlines have been urging Congress to roll back the requirement.

Pilots, however, say low starting pay is what's really behind the shortage.

MPR reports a four-year degree aviation degree at MSU Mankato costs the student $146,000.

Mark Biolo, who flies for Hawthorne Aviation in Eau Claire, told WEAU this week that first officers start with annual salaries of $25,000 to $35,000, adding "...for someone to incur $100,000 worth of debt and go to work for almost nothing and have to service that debt while at the same time trying to live, it’s not an appealing career for people now."

This embed is invalid

The U.S. is not alone in facing the prospect of empty cockpits. CNN reports there's an acute shortage in Asia, as well.

A Japanese university has tried to alleviate it through a partnership with the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

Next Up

Anthony Edwards

Ant ejected, Wolves blow huge lead and lose to slumping Hawks

The Timberwolves missed another opportunity to get over .500.

Xcel Energy Center

NHL announces make-up dates for Wild postponements

The Wild will play 40 games in the final 77 days of the regular season.

the mayo clinic - edit

Group says Mayo should be 'severely punished' over research puppy's death

The puppy died two days after undergoing a procedure at a Mayo research facility.

FLickr - minneapolis police - Tony Webster - Feb 2020 - crop

Charges: Man kidnapped woman, sexually assaulted her at gunpoint

The suspect faces three separate felony charges.

mn state capitol january 17 2021

St. Cloud 'Boogaloo Boi' who discussed attack on MN Capitol gets 2 years

He was charged with illegally possessing a machine gun.

Chris Smith

Gophers add All-Ivy League D-tackle from Harvard

Chris Smith will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

school bus

High school basketball team returns from game to find bus driver dead

Members of the girls team returned to the bus to find the driver unresponsive.

covid-19 testing site sign

Minnesota AG sues COVID testing site, alleging it sent false results

Sometimes the company didn't send people their results at all, the lawsuit alleges.

optum headquarters chad davis wikimedia commons

UnitedHealth Group says it made $287B last year, $24B of it profit

The corporation's Optum business represented a significant chunk of that total.

covid

Omicron may have already peaked in Minnesota

Reported cases lag what's happening in real time, so the newly reported cases over the next week or so will still be very high.

MnDot snow plow cam I-35 12-10-21

MnDOT reveals 50 snowplow name finalists

Voting is open through Wednesday, Jan. 26.

Related