SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A local solution to a nationwide problem, Savannah Aviation is training people to become pilots and working to address some of the problems contributing to the shortage.

“Everyone’s feeling the squeeze and feeling overworked, and pilots especially,” said Russell Freed, Director of Development for Savannah Aviation.

Flight Training Center Savannah Aviation said an aging workforce, mandatory retirement, and entry barriers like the cost of training are contributing to the problem.

“The airlines when they weren’t flying as much gave people early retirement options and now we’ve all seen the rebound from COVID-19 much sooner than we’ve predicted,” Freed said.

Now, consumers are feeling the impacts but Freed says training and hiring more pilots will help avoid these unwanted delays and problems in the future.

“If we have more flights to reaccommodate passengers on, the delay is a lot shorter, versus days as it is now if you were to be canceled,” Freed said.

Some estimates show that by 2025, we could have a gap of roughly 34,000 pilots but Freed said making training more accessible and offering good salaries and benefits will boost current numbers.

“There’s a ton of potential here, the median salary is about $200,000 a year annually for pilots, and with the shortage it’s a great opportunity for people to step into a new and exciting role,” Freed said.

But Savannah Aviation is working to make corporate and airline pilots’ license’s more attainable through its training program and the organization says it’s seen interest increase.

“There’s so much growth in our local area for flight training,” Freed said. “Savannah Aviation has seen year-on-year flight growth rates of about 50%.”

Joe Rodriguez is a flight instructor for Savannah Aviation. He said getting a pilot’s license takes a lot of commitment but anyone can get started.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are, we have a demographic of high school kids all the way up to people who are in retirement age,” Rodriguez said. “Aviation is for everyone, it’s not earmarked for any particular age group, or any demographic.”

Airlines are raising pay for pilots by 15% in response to economic concerns and Savannah Aviation says people as young as 16 can start training to become a pilot.

To learn more about how you can get started, click or tap here.