Aviation Search Group Managing Director Jay Gallagher is a former crew chief on a B1-B, so he knows something about leadership and attention to detail. That’s the professional attitude he brings to the job of putting qualified pilots in the left seat for his multitude of corporate clients. These days, he is seeing more planes than there are pilots to fly them, but this short supply doesn’t mean his customers will take just anybody.
“Our Part 91 clients are the people who make the world go around. They are looking for flight crews that are polite, well educated, can speak intelligently and who keep safety uppermost,” Gallagher says. “Our pilots are flying an owners’ clients, colleagues and also family, so professionalism is crucial.”
Gallagher definitely senses a pilot shortage, but he describes an interesting nuance. “In the corporate world, pilots in the 1,500- to 3,000-range are in short supply because when pilots hit that 1500-hour mark they usually go to a regional. But corporate flight departments or charter operations might pay just as well and might offer better schedules.”
He also says sub-1000-hour ATPs who don’t have a type rating should not get discouraged.
“If you check most of the boxes and you ace your interviews, most clients will pay for your type rating,” Gallagher says. “A good cultural fit is more important. I mean a 2,000-hour pilot who has spent a couple of years flying King Airs, who is hard-working and honest, shouldn’t have a problem getting a type rating in a CJ.”
What about older pilots who are climbing down from the airline mountain? “We’ve successfully placed 72-year-old retired airline pilots, no problem,” Gallagher says.
While Gallagher’s experience in the industry reveals a pilot shortage in certain age and hours-flown categories, his real concern is the looming shortage of A&P mechanics. “It’s a generational moment,” he says. “The older A&Ps are aging out and young people aren’t as interested in the field.”
Still, he’s confident Aviation Search Group can undertake the matchmaking required to satisfy both clients and aviation professionals. “Aviation Search Group has been doing this for 20+ years,” he says. “We’ve got the experience and network to get results.”