“We are more than ready to provide solutions to the challenge the industry is presenting with the pilot shortage.”
Fort Myers, Fla. — June 24, 2021 — Earlier this week, American Airlines began delaying or canceling hundreds of flights due to a shortage of airline personnel, including pilots, a problem they anticipate continuing through July. Delta Airlines then promptly followed with the announcement that it would hire more than 1,000 pilots by summer 2022. Christopher Schoensee, owner and president of Paragon Flight Training, headquartered at Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida, said his flight training academy, which is already looking at a record year for 2021, has been strategically gearing up for the increased pilot demand for some time and is ready to help fill the pipeline.
“The airlines’ model of hiring and training pilots has been evolving. We are seeing interest by the major carriers to consider the benefits of working with technically advanced, professional, private flight training academies that can pivot with the industry to safely, quickly and expertly train the commercial airline pilots of the future,” Schoensee said.
It was the anticipation of the pilot shortage and the need to accommodate increased demand for the company’s services that served as the impetus for Paragon Flight Training’s ambitious growth plan, which began in 2018 with the investment of additional advanced flight simulators, followed by a two-phased strategic growth plan in 2020 that is now seeing significant results.
In March 2021, the company entered into a 10-year agreement with Lee County Port Authority, an effort that will triple Paragon Flight’s aircraft fleet operations at Page Field while expanding their training and technology services. The project includes the construction of a 14,000-square-foot maintenance and MRO facility that broke ground in March, as well as an 8,000-square-foot pilot development learning center, slated for completion in 2022. The company also hired aviation industry insider and former commercial airline pilot, Captain Lee Collins, for additional strategy heft.
“We have acted aggressively in recent years to build up our flight training might and capabilities and are more than ready to provide solutions to the challenge the industry is presenting with the pilot shortage,” Schoensee said.
Schoensee noted that email leads coming into Paragon Flight for information on flight training services have steadily increased from strong pre-pandemic levels of 140 – 150 per month to nearly 200 in April and May. Moreover, of those recent queries, nearly 50% are inquiring about training as career pilots, a jump from 35% pre-pandemic, when the majority of queries were for recreational flight training as well as the specialized training Paragon offers for domestic and military personnel.
“The aviation industry is having a moment, both for negative and positive reasons, but there is no doubt that we are in a pivotal era that will guide pilot training and talent acquisition for at least the next decade. For those who are prepared to be leaders, it’s a great time to be in the industry,” Schoensee said.
About Paragon Flight Training
Paragon Flight is an award-winning flight academy headquartered at Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida. With FAA and SEVIS accreditations, a fleet of nearly 20 planes, and advanced simulator technology onsite, the company trains commercial, professional, and recreational pilots and as well as offering military pilot training for domestic and foreign governments. The company is in the process of a 22,000-combined-square-foot expansion slated for completion in fourth quarter 2021.