Boeing set an ominous tone for the start of the August 28 to 29 Asia Pacific Airline Travel Symposium (Apats) in Singapore with a warning that the region risks perhaps the most serious shortage of pilots and aviation technicians in the world over the next 20 years. Already suffering from a relative paucity of recruits, Asia-Pacific airlines cannot exercise their growth ambitions to the extent they would like, and some have even found themselves forced to cancel service and ground airplanes. The situation only stands to worsen if the demand for air travel grows as quickly as Boeing expects over the next two decades.
“This great need for aviation personnel is a global issue, but it’s hitting the Asia-Pacific region particularly hard,” said Bob Bellitto, global sales director of Boeing Flight Services. “Some airlines are already experiencing delays and operational interruptions because they don’t have enough qualified pilots. Surging economies in the region are driving travel demand. Airlines and training providers need new and more engaging ways to fill the pipeline of pilots and technicians for the future.”
The 2012 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, issued during last month’s Farnborough International airshow, calls for 185,600 new pilots and 243,500 new technicians in the Asia-Pacific region through 2030. According to the report, China alone will need 71,300 pilots and 99,400 technicians over the next 20 years, accounting for the largest demand in the region.
The Boeing outlook projects that Southeast Asia will require 51,500 pilots and 67,400 technicians over the next two decades, while Southwest Asia accounts for 31,000 pilots and 33,100 mechanics; Northeast Asia will need 18,800 pilots and 26,500 technicians over the 20 years; and demand in Oceania will call for 12,900 pilots and 17,100 technicians, according to Boeing.
In response, Boeing signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation in June to undertake an effort to establish training programs as part of the company’s worldwide effort to develop a global network of flight schools.
“As an industry, we have to get the next generation excited about working in the field of aviation,” Bellitto said. “We are competing for talent with alluring high-tech, software and mobile companies and start-ups. We’re working hard to showcase our industry as a truly global, technological, multi-faceted environment where individuals from all backgrounds and disciplines can make a significant impact.”
The Asia-Pacific region also leads demand for new commercial airplane deliveries over the next 20 years, accounting for 12,030 new airplanes through 2031, according to Boeing’s 2012 Current Market Outlook.