Scott Spangler has written an interesting post about pilot demographics over in the States or rather pilot demographics trying to find some stability. Scott began by noting the US pilot population peaked in 1980 at 827,000 active aviators – which happens to be the last year any baby boomers born in 1964 became old enough to solo. He also included this handy chart which of course shows there is a bit more to the story because birth rates have also been declining:
From 1980 on though, a decline set in as pilots from the so-called Greatest Generation (born between 1901 and 1924) and the Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1945) slowly retired, passed away or otherwise became grounded. Scott then pointed out that until 2005, baby boomers accounted for more than half of the pilot population, but that began to change the following year when the first boomers started to turn 60.
After the financial crisis, boomer pilot representation fell to 43% of all pilots and hit 40% in 2011 – no doubt in part due to deteriorating finances but also perhaps in part due to deteriorating health (at least in the eyes of the FAA) as suggested by some of the comments posted. Scott added that:
Where the pilot population will find its demographic stability is anyone’s guess. Looking at the succeeding generations and their financial futures and opportunities, my guess is 300,000 or less.
Why should US pilots care if there are only 300,000 or less pilots? Scott ended his post by pointing out that when it comes to the cost of flying, a smaller pilot population means it’s only going to get more expensive with the only solutions likely being sharing the costs of flying through fractional ownership, partnership schemes and flying clubs.