A surge in pilot certificates for millennials is chipping away at a critical, decades-long labor shortage in aviation.
Data: Federal Aviation Administration; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
What's happening: The U.S. pilot shortage has threatened to eventually shut down smaller regional and cargo airlines and make rural areas of the U.S. more isolated and out of reach. But since 2006 — when millennials began reaching adulthood — the number of 20- to 35-year-old pilots has been slowly ticking back up after decades of decline, and compensating for a fall in other age categories, according to FAA data.
In 2008, 150,907 people in the 20- to 34-year-old age group had active pilot certificates. By last year, the number was up to 197,493, according to the FAA.
But there's still a long way to go:
How we got here: Following 9/11, several airlines went out of business or filed for bankruptcy. The industry then suffered through the financial crash. That made piloting a hard sell for young people starting careers.
But there are other hard obstacles: