As the Covid-19 pandemic persists, and students return to campuses across the United States, there has not been a significant decline in the number of students enrolled in pilot-degree programs, according to a survey of aviation educators. Nearly 90% of schools report “little or no change.”
Only one school reported more than 15% cancellations or degree changes. About one-quarter indicated a “melt” of 5-15% in students committed to attending (though up from 10% a month ago). One-third are seeing less than 5% change, and 26.47% indicated all enrolled students plan to attend.
Surprisingly, in the wake of the devastation in the airline industry, nearly 40% of the universities will have a higher number of students than started a year ago. Only 15% expect a lower number, and 36.4% are level with 2019.
Ken Byrnes, Chair of the Flight Training Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), who moderates the ad-hoc national group’s periodic Zoom discussions, cautioned, “As the airline industry slows, interest can start to wane,” but he reminded that the process of becoming an airline pilot “is a four- to five-year journey, and the industry is going to need a significant amount of pilots in the near future.”