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Looming Pilot and Aircraft Maintenance Technician shortages continue to be global civil aviation challenges for the foreseeable future.  Unsurprisingly, Boeing’s recently updated “Pilot & Technician Outlook 2018-2037” builds on themes published in their 2017 Outlook.   To illustrate, consider these key words in Boeing’s narrative:  Extraordinary, Proactive, Collaboration, Inspiring, Innovative, Diversity and Mobility.  Clearly, Boeing is signaling to the world that the status quo simply will not satisfy industry’s demand for growth.

The Numbers

Boeing’s forecast numbers are staggering.  For all civil aviation sectors, Boeing estimates 20-year requirements for 790,000 new pilots and 754,000 maintenance technicians.  Additionally, nearly 900,000 new cabin crew will be needed to enable forecast growth.

Pilot Shortages

Currently, global airlines challenged by staffing needs continue to recruit from outside their home regions.  However, numerous operators are beginning to develop programs to recruit and train locally-sourced pilots. These “zero hour” candidates seek to ready future crewmembers as licensed first officers.   To attract and retain new generation pilots, airlines are beginning to implement new technologies, adaptive learning and modern teaching curricula.

On a regional basis over the next 20 years, Boeing forecasts the Asia Pacific region will lead worldwide demand with a requirement for 261,000 new pilots. Close behind, North America will require 206,000.  Other regional demand includes Europe at 146,000, the Middle East at 64,000, Latin America at 57,000, Africa at 29,000 and Russia/ Central Asia at 27,000.

Aircraft Maintenance Technician Shortages

Similar to pilot demand, the world’s expanding aircraft fleets will continue to require large numbers of maintenance technicians.  Interestingly, Boeing’s forecast growth highlights increasing use of modern technologies in avionics, composites and digital technologies that will drive candidate profiles.  Additionally, mobile and distance learning technologies will gradually become the norm as new candidates seek modern learning environments.

Mirroring pilot requirements, the Asia Pacific region will require 257,000 new technicians through 2037. Airlines in North America will need 189,000, Europe 132,000, the Middle East 66,000, Latin America 55,000, Africa 28,000, and Russia / Central Asia 27,000.

Additional Resources

Avi8ion’s Asset Page includes reference to other studies of pilot and maintenance technician forecasts.


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