While reducing its forecast workforce needs, Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook 2020-2039 still sees shortages looming in the future. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns is the impact of the global downturn on the pipeline since shortages have always been driven by retirement and Covid has largely accelerated retirements which have now been compounded by those who leave the industry permanently.
Meanwhile, CAE sees a need for some 27,000 new pilots from the end of 2021, or 264,000 over the coming decade.
These views are tempered by a post from Aviation Consultant Brian Foley, making strong arguments by the end of Boeing’s 20-year forecast automation will be taking over.
Boeing indicated the industry will need 763,000 pilot and 739,000 aviation maintenance technicians worldwide, a 5% drop from the 840,000 pilots and a 3.9% decline from the 769,00 AMTs forecast in 2019.
“These forecasts do not take into account the technological progress being made in semi- and fully-autonomous flight,” said Foley.
Foley, who writes extensively on business aviation, pointed to the Large Unmanned Cargo aircraft under development and those already fielded by the U.S. military, predicting military will be the first to shed crews.
“Drones are moving even more quickly towards flight autonomy, including military versions and those used by delivery services like Amazon , Walmart and others as well as Garmin’s Autoland technology,” he said. “It won’t take a special, clean-sheet aircraft design to accommodate this but instead a retrofit of the existing fleet.”
“A Boeing executive summary reiterates that ‘meeting the projected long-term demand’ for aviation positions ‘will require a collective effort across the global aviation industry’ as ‘tens of thousands of pilots, technicians and cabin crew members reach retirement age over the next decade.’ The company says educational outreach and career pathway programs ‘will be essential to inspiring and recruiting the next generation’,” wrote AOPA in its coverage.
Despite the downturn, according to staffing specialist JS Firm, hundreds of companies continue to hire.