Sitting comfortably in the cockpit: Research shows pilots’ job security is sky-high

With Ryanair's current cancellations highlighting a shortage of pilots for the budget airline and the pipeline of commercial pilots dwindling, research by PrivateFly* shows that today’s cockpit captains are sitting comfortably when it comes to their job security.

The private aviation booking platform surveyed pilots across the aviation spectrum for its Pilot Survey 2017, including airlines, private aviation, cargo and military. The survey asked how they were feeling about their jobs, how much they earn, what inspires them and about their travel habits.

Key findings include:

  • 87% of working pilots report feeling secure in their job (of which 42% feel “very secure”). This is an increase against the 72% seen in a similar survey in 2012.
  • The most common earning band for pilots is £40,000 - £70,000, in line with a London tube driver.
  • A global shortage of pilots is the biggest challenge the aviation industry faces in the next five years, according to the survey.
  • Just 3% of the pilots taking part were female, in line with industry averages.
  • 76% say they have wanted to fly since childhood.
  • The average pilot has visited 25 countries, with Australia and New Zealand as their favourites.

Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly and himself a former RAF and private jet pilot commented on the findings:

“The global pipeline of qualified pilots is slowing, with shrinking military pools, and rising costs for those funding their own training. Our survey shows that this is a big industry concern. But those already in the job are experiencing high levels of job security – possibly due to their rarity - and this has increased since our 2012 survey.

“Nevertheless it’s clear that pilots are not in, or attracted to, the job for the money. This is a vocation that most have dreamed of since childhood, with earnings not as high as many people might expect.

“With other findings about travel habits and flight bag must-haves, the results of PrivateFly’s Pilot Survey give a fascinating snapshot of today’s pilot.”

See more highlights from the PrivateFly Pilot Survey 2017. Or for a PDF copy of the survey white paper, email


Notes to editors:

*1,315 global pilots took part in the PrivateFly Pilot Survey 2017, and were recruited through international industry networks, online pilot communities, and social media.

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