Cirrus Aviation Services aims to overcome pilot shortage in jet leasing

Pilots are in short supply as the aviation industry tries to recover from COVID-19. But a private jet charter company, Cirrus Aviation Services, plans to pay pilots while they get the overtime they need. Cirrus says its FAA-approved program will help support the company’s growth.

Cirrus Aviation Services is Nevada’s largest aircraft charter operator. Based at Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, Cirrus Aviation Services has grown from one aircraft in 2009 to 30 in 2022.

Like other jet charter operators, the company’s business continued to grow during the pandemic as commercial airlines halted flights. Cirrus says their business, entertainment and corporate customers are happy to leave the hassle of crowded airports and delayed flights behind (as recently documented by JD Power).

The company currently offers aircraft for lease ranging from compact Honda Jets to the fifteen-passenger Bombardier Challenger 850 with a range of over 3,000 miles.

Although domestic air travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, private jet travel shows no signs of slowing down. The new aircraft added by Cirrus Aviation Services bring its total fleet to over thirty aircraft.

But planes need pilots. For its business to continue to grow, Cirrus Aviation must compete with the rest of the aviation world for pilots. So the company is launching what it says in an FAA-approved pilot development program designed to help pilots get the hours they need to progress.

“The pilots and aircraft joining our fleet will help us meet the growing demand for charter flights,” CEO Greg Woods said. “Our FAA-approved pilot development program will help us develop the next generation of pilots. With the Pilot Development Program, we can teach our systems and procedures and help pilots earn valuable flight hours while being compensated. »

For Cirrus, part of that system is understanding customer service. “Our charter customers, including Las Vegas celebrities and entertainers, appreciate that we take their comfort, privacy and safety seriously,” said Christi Cordo, vice president of sales and flight services at Cirrus Aviation. Services.

According to CEO Woods, Honda Jets, which can carry up to six passengers on short flights in the Southwest, are a key part of Cirrus Aviation’s pilot development program. In the program, new commercial pilots will fly with check pilots in the left seat. This allows them to gain valuable hours of flight experience in an FAA-approved program.

In addition to “earning while learning” by earning overtime on Honda Jets, pilots can progress to become co-pilots on larger planes like Cirrus Aviation’s Challengers and Gulfstreams. After gaining experience as co-pilots, pilots can progress to become captains on Honda Jets. Eventually, they will become captains on larger Cirrus Aviation aircraft.

The program allows pilots to save valuable flight time while being mentored by experienced pilots and within an air system, which Cirrus considers key to career progression. In its contest for pilots, Cirrus says it also offers internal promotion, competitive pay and benefits, and the Las Vegs lifestyle focused on the outdoors and fun.

In addition to its charter business, Cirrus Aviation also offers maintenance services to private aircraft owners through its facilities at Harry Reid Airport. Owners of these aircraft often make them available to Cirrus to generate charter revenue. In addition to its base in Las Vegas, Cirrus has a presence in New York and at the Van Nuys airport in Los Angeles.

Will Cirrus’ approach to the pilot shortage succeed? It’s too early to tell, but across the industry, many companies are grappling with the issue.

The Federal Aviation Administration has rejected a recent request from Republic Airways (which operates short flights for United, Delta and American) to halve the number of hours required to become a pilot. Regulations require at least 1,500 flight hours for commercial pilots. Republic asked to reduce the minimum to 750 hours at the end of its training program. The FAA refused to reduce the necessary flight hours, citing “the greater public interest in ensuring and maintaining the level of safety”.

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