Boeing has released the 2019 update of its ‘Pilot & Technician Outlook’, a long-running industry forecast of personnel demand.
The latest Boeing forecast projects that 804,000 new civil aviation pilots, 769,000 new maintenance technicians, and 914,000 new cabin crew will be needed to fly and maintain the world commercial aviation fleet over the next 20 years. The forecast is inclusive of the commercial aviation, business aviation, and civil helicopter industries.
Boeing say that demand will stem from a mix of fleet growth, retirements and attrition, and that the growing diversity and mobility of aviation personnel will also require instructors to have cross-cultural, cross-generational, and multilingual skills to engage with tomorrow’s workforce.
New personnel demand is calculated using on a 20-year fleet forecast for commercial aviation aircraft with more than thirty seats, business jets, and civil helicopters. Based on fleet growth, aircraft utilisation, attrition rates, and regional differences in crewing specific to aircraft type, Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook estimates the number of new pilots, technicians, and cabin crew needed worldwide.
Slight variations to the forecast can occur on a year over year basis as a result of factors, including changes in regulations, crew productivity, and aircraft mix. The Boeing forecast does not currently include any figures for single-pilot commercial operations (such as ab-initio training) or autonomous aircraft.
Boeing confirm that the pilot jobs supply remains constrained (pilot supply is only just meeting demand) and airlines are increasingly seeking to recruit, develop, and train locally sourced pilots. ‘Cadet’ programmes that train aspiring pilots to be a qualified and operationally-ready first officer have increased in popularity as airlines look to fill future pilot pipelines.
Boeing also claim that airlines are recognising the significant cost burden for students, and ‘bond’ programmes (where the airline pays for the cadet’s training, then takes reimbursement from the cadet’s salary over a number of years) have gained traction as another avenue for interested candidates.
The forecast says that evidence and competency-based training programs are increasingly being adopted to change how pilots are trained and assessed.
Instruction is evolving to train pilots to proficiencies and competencies, rather than a standard syllabus. The goal is to ensure pilots are effectively trained on procedures to address today’s most common operational risks and assessed based on key skills and competencies that all pilots should possess.
In regional terms, over the next 20 years, Boeing forecasts that the Asia Pacific region will lead the worldwide growth in demand for pilots, with a requirement for 266,000 new pilots. Over the same period North America will require 212,000 pilots, Europe 148,000, the Middle East 68,000, Latin America 54,000, Africa 29,000 and Russia / Central Asia 27,000.
Boeing 20 year forecast by region
Region 2018 forecast 2019 forecast
Asia Pacific 261,000 266,000
Europe 146,000 148,000
North America 206,000 212,000
Latin America 57,000 54,000
Middle East 64,000 68,000
Africa 29,000 29,000
Russia / CIS 27,000 27,000
Total 790,000 804,000
The Boeing forecast also covers ‘Technicians’ (engineers) and cabin crew. In terms of engineers, Boeing says that advances in aircraft technology will drive demand for a new set of skills, such as digital troubleshooting and composites repair.
Concurrently, operators and MROs will be challenged to ensure technicians continue to maintain the skills and capability necessary to service the large fleet of older generation aircraft. These two skill sets often differ, creating opportunities for the industry to enhance its standard training curriculum.
Mobile and distance learning solutions are supplementing traditional classroom instruction and allow students to continue their studies outside of traditional instructor-led classes.
New technologies, such as augmented and mixed reality solutions, are also being tested as a way to improve student engagement, quality of instruction, and knowledge retention. Competency-based maintenance training continues to evolve as the industry focuses on addressing individual students’ needs and knowledge gaps.
The need for maintenance personnel is largest in the Asia Pacific region, which will require 266,000 new engineers. Airlines in North America will require 193,000, Europe 137,000, the Middle East 69,000, Latin America 52,000, Africa 27,000, and Russia / Central Asia 25,000.
Regarding cabin crew, the Boeing forecast says that training continues to focus on providing superior customer service and ensuring cabin crew have the skills to recognise and mitigate safety risks. Advances in scenario-based training and mobile learning technologies support continuous learning and prepare cabin crew for situations that may occur in the cabin.
As with pilot and engineer demand, over the next 20 years, the largest projected growth in cabin crew demand is in the Asia Pacific region, with a requirement for 327,000 new cabin crew. Europe will require 194,000, North America 176,000, Middle East 104,000, Latin America 53,000, Russia / Central Asia 30,000, and Africa 30,000.