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Pilot and technician outlook to 2037

Boeing in mid-2018 released its annual Pilot & Technician Outlook report, projecting demand for 790,000 pilots over the next 20 years. This represents double the current workforce, explains the company, and what it describes as the most significant demand in the report’s nine-year history.


January 16, 2019
By Wings Staff

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Boeing explains this demand is being driven by an anticipated doubling of the global commercial airplane fleet (as outlined in its recent Commercial Market Outlook), record-high air travel demand, and tightening labour supply. This year’s Pilot & Technician Outlook also includes data from the business aviation and civil helicopter sectors for the first time.

“Despite strong global air traffic growth, the aviation industry continues to face a pilot labour supply challenge, raising concern about the existence of a global pilot shortage in the near-term,” said Keith Cooper, vice president of training and professional services, Boeing Global Services. “An emphasis on developing the next generation of pilots is key to help mitigate this.”

Even as the commercial pilot demand forecast holding nearly steady, Boeing explains maintenance technician demand decreased slightly from 648,000 to 622,000. The company says this is primarily due to longer maintenance intervals for newer aircraft. Collectively, the business aviation and civil helicopter sectors will demand an additional 155,000 pilots and 132,000 technicians.

Boeing offers the Pilot Development Program – an accelerated training program that guides future pilots from early stage ab-initio training through type rating as a first officer – to help operators meet their growing pilot needs. Several aerospace suppliers, operators and airlines offer similar types of programs to help promote and foster careers in aviation.

Demand for commercial cabin crew increased slightly from 839,000 to 858,000, according to Boeing, due to changes in fleet mix, regulatory requirements, denser seat configurations and multi-cabin configurations. In addition, 32,000 new cabin crew will be required to support business aviation.

Over the next 20 years, the report found that the largest projected growth in cabin crew demand is in the Asia Pacific region, with a requirement for 321,000 new cabin crew. Europe will require 187,000, North America 174,000, Middle East 97,000, Latin America 53,000, Russia/Central Asia 29,000, and Africa 29,000.

The Pilot & Technician Outlook report also forecasts, that over the next 20 years, the Asia Pacific region will lead the worldwide growth in demand for pilots, with a requirement for 261,000 new pilots. North America will require 206,000, Europe 146,000, the Middle East 64,000, Latin America 57,000, Africa 29,000 and Russia/Central Asia 27,000.

As the pilot labour supply continues to tighten around the world, Boeing explains regional markets are not only relying on recruiting pilots from outside their home locations, but also investing more to recruit, train, and develop locally sourced pilots. .

Over the next 20 years, Boeing explains the global fleet will increase from 24,400 to 48,540 airplanes, which again is a primary reason for the current unprecedented demand for pilots. The 2018 report found fleet growth rates have been especially high in emerging markets that have a comparatively small pilot pool – creating regional supply challenges for qualified, ready-to-fly pilots.

In addition, the airline industry is in its 10th consecutive year of above average air travel demand growth, which Boeing describes as creating an urgency for airlines to quickly hire pilots and put new airplanes into revenue service. . These same two factors currently creating unprecedented demand for pilots are driving an equally important need for aircraft maintenance technicians.

On top of the demand for new pilots to support fleet and traffic growth, Boeing explains several regions of the world also have a large wave of pilots approaching mandatory retirement age. The report points out that airlines in Japan and the United States received a reprieve when regulations were updated to increase the mandatory pilot retirement age. However, these updated regulations provided only temporary relief, according to Boeing, which found airlines in the United States will lose more than 8,000 pilots to retirements in the next five years. This equates to more than four pilots lost from active duty per day.

In Japan, thje 2018 Pilot & Technician Outlook found that more than 50 per cent of airline captains are over the age of 45, and a wave of retirements are expected starting in 2030.

Again looking at aircraft maintenance technicians, Boeing explains that as new generation airplanes become more prominent in the global fleet, advances in airplane technology will drive an increased need for technicians skilled in avionics, composites, and digital troubleshooting. The need for maintenance personnel is largest in the Asia Pacific region, which will require 257,000 new technicians. Airlines in North America will require 189,000, Europe 132,000, the Middle East 66,000, Latin America 55,000, Africa 28,000, and Russia/Central Asia 27,000.