With pilot shortage looming, Southwest Airlines partners with OU aviation

It’s not difficult for major airlines to calculate an impending shortage of commercial pilots, as director of the OU School of Aviation Ken Carson explains. Regulations state that pilots must retire when they turn 65. It’s a fixed target, Carson said, and the lack of new pilots entering the field illustrates how a pilot shortage could become a significant problem in the next decade or so.

“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” Carson said. “Over the next 10-15 years, major airlines will be losing pilots to retirement.”

To head this off, Southwest Airlines announced a partnership with, among other institutions, the University of Oklahoma called Destination 225º to try and increase the pipeline of new pilots. The aim is to identify OU aviation students who want to go into the commercial pilot field and offer them professional support so they can move into a job with Southwest more easily.

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