BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) —  In a 2017 outlook by aircraft manufacturing company Boeing, a pilot shortage on a national and global scale that could shake the entire airline industry, with 60,000 needed within the next five years alone. West Virginia Airport Managers Association president Clint Ransom sees a glimmer of hope in this unfortunate trend.

“There’s going to be opportunities because there are jobs opening up,” Ransom said. “There is a shortage now, so these new prospective pilots have hope of finding a job.”

Ransom says a large percentage of pilots are reaching the retirement age in 2018 and beyond, which could advance those prospective pilots up from regional carriers. However, filling the vacancies of those regional pilots are, according to the outlook, “nowhere near sufficient.”

“We have a large outflow with not a large inflow of new pilots,” Ransom said.

In addition, new Federal Aviation Administration regulations enacted by Congress increased the hours necessary for commercial airline pilots from 250 to 1500 hours, jumping training costs from $40,000 to as much as $100,000 to make up for it.  With starting pay as little as $20,000, Ransom believes aspiring young pilots need to envision the excellent job security that is at stake, even with little return investment.

“It’s not just like a job that you can go do because you think you can make a lot of money,” Ransom said.  “You’re not going to be successful at it (and) you’re not going to pass your training unless you have a passion for it. So, first we have to find the people that have a passion for aviation.  We have to push this on our younger generation and get them interested in aviation.”

According to the outlook, a possible impact from these pilot shortages could affect the newer and larger regional jets being added to fleets.  Even with economic potential from less fuel burned and a higher passenger capacity, communities that cannot support these aircraft and adjust to these circumstances could lose service altogether.