Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research





Key words

recruiting student pilots, promoting flight schools, marketing communication approaches, pilot workforce sustainability


As the U.S. domestic commercial aviation activities have been recovering and will continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic over the next few years, a trend of the shortage in the regional airline pilot workforce is noted. Therefore, it is crucial to increase the reservoir of pilot candidates to sustain the industry’s pilot occupation rigor. To assist advance flight schools’ recruitment of new pilot candidates, this study examined how various marketing communication approaches influenced student pilots’ selections of flight schools. This study also further investigated how student pilots’ preferences in accessing school information differed in accordance with their different demographic profiles/market segments of residency status, types of school the participants attended, gender, annual incomes, ages, and education levels. The study sample included 201 student pilots who participated in an online survey which was conducted in 2019 examining their school choice experiences pertaining to vocational noncollegiate flight schools in California. Descriptive and inferential statistics were utilized to analyze the survey data. The findings revealed that, in general, student pilots considered contact with school flight instructors, contact with staff, and word of mouth referrals as the three most influential marketing communication approaches in their decisions in choosing a flight school. Statistically significant differences in the perceived influence of marketing communication approaches on school selections among student pilots with different demographic profiles were mostly identified between domestic students versus international students and Part 61 school students versus Part 141 school students.



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