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Pilot Shortage Having Impact In Area

The national pilot shortage has impacted Montana including Cape Air’s flights to rural communities.

“It’s industry wide, it’s terrible,” Walt McNutt, a member of Montana’s Essential Air Service task force, said.

McNutt explains that Cape Air has combined some flights since about the start of the year. Those flights include the ones from Wolf Point and Glasgow. Sidney and Glendive have combined two flights and Sidney has lost one daily round-trip flight. McNutt added that Glasgow and Havre also have one combined flight.

He noted that Cape Air has put together a training program with the goal of getting enough pilots for its flights sometime in October.

“They have been busting their hinees to do the best that they can,” McNutt said of Cape Air. “They’re doing everything they can under the circumstances.”

McNutt explains that the root of the problem is that individuals wanting to become pilots must complete 1,500 hours of flying before obtaining their commercial airlines license.

“We’re just not getting enough trained pilots,” McNutt said.

He believes 13,800 new pilots are needed in the country this year and then 10,000 more each additional year in order to meet the demand.

One hope is that Congress reduces the amount of required training hours for pilots.

“They [airline representatives[ are trying to get Congress informed,” McNutt said.

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