Boeing Increases 20-Year Forecast for New Pilots, Technicians

 - July 25, 2016, 10:59 AM
There will be a need for 617,000 new airline pilots over the next 20 years, or about 31,000 pilots a year, according to Boeing forecast.

Boeing predicts a 20-year demand for 617,000 new airline pilots and 679,000 technicians, reflecting double-digit increases over its previous forecast. Increased demand for service in North America and Europe is driving a need for more pilots, while an aging technician population is hastening attrition in that category, the manufacturer said.

Weeks after releasing a commercial market outlook (CMO) that projects a 20-year worldwide demand for 39,620 new airplanes valued at $5.9 trillion—a 4.1 percent increase over its previous estimate—Boeing on July 25 released its seventh annual pilot and technician outlook. The personnel forecast is similarly bullish, reflecting a 10.5-percent increase over its previous estimate for pilots and an 11.5-percent increase for technicians.

For the first time this year, Boeing also released a cabin crew outlook that forecasts the need for 814,000 new flight attendants over 20 years, or about 40,000 per year. “When you put them all together, you see a need for over 2.1 million resources to support the growth of the world fleet,” Sherry Carbary, Boeing Flight Services vice president, told reporters in a conference call to discuss the outlook.

Boeing predicts that the restoration of scheduled air services to Cuba and expanded air services agreements with Mexico will drive demand for 112,000 new pilots in North America over the forecast period. At the same time, “continued strength” of the intra-European Union market will support 104,000 new piloting jobs in Europe.

While those two markets combined will need 216,000 new pilots and showed the largest increases over the previous forecast, the Asia-Pacific region as a whole will need 248,000 new pilots—40 percent of the overall demand. The region will need 268,000 new technicians.

In the Middle East, the demand for pilots decreased slightly as a result of a changing fleet mix in which retiring widebody airplanes are being replaced by single-aisle airplanes, which require fewer pilots overall to crew, Carbary said.

With the demand for pilots growing in most parts of the world, Boeing Flight Services, which operates 15 training campuses, is focused on ensuring there is a steady supply of candidates to support the need, Carbary said.

“We all remember over the last five to eight years that a regional airline pilot was making $16,000 to $20,000 [a year] and paid $150,000 to get their license,” she said. “We’re seeing that change pretty rapidly now and in most parts of the world the pilot pay has increased dramatically and people are fighting to keep their pilots so they’re increasing the pay.”