Boeing

Pilot and Technician Outlook 2021–2040

As the commercial aviation industry navigates an uneven global recovery from the recent market downturn caused by COVID-19effective training and an adequate supply of personnel remain critical to maintaining the health, safety and prosperity of the aviation ecosystem.

Long-term demand for newly qualified aviation personnel remains strong, as 612,000 new pilots, 626,000 new maintenance technicians and 886,000 new cabin crew members are needed to fly and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years.

Meeting projected pilot, aircraft mechanic and flight attendant demand is wholly dependent on industry’s investment in a steady pipeline of newly qualified personnel to replace those who have left or will soon exit the industry through mandatory retirement, early retirement, recent layoffs and furloughs, and ongoing attrition. The global aviation industry will need to keep a sharp focus and engage in collective efforts to build a robust, diverse talent pipeline through more educational outreach and recruitment, development of new pathways to aviation careers, investment in early-career learning opportunities, and deployment and adoption of more efficient learning methods. Opportunity for aspiring aviators will abound while operators will face stiff competition in recruiting and retaining top tier talent.

Those in this industry who emerge from market downturns have historically resumed their growth trajectory through collaboration, adaptation, and innovation. To address challenges created during the COVID-19 pandemic, the training industry is adopting increasingly innovative solutions. Many training providers have transitioned their offerings to online and virtual formats where possible, allowing students to continue their learning safely and remotely. Immersive technologies, adaptive learning and flexible distance learning methods have allowed the training pipeline to remain intact while evolving how training is delivered. Continued investments in these technologies will likely lead to a long-term fundamental shift in how training is conducted.

Training methodologies also continue to progress toward a holistic approach that focuses on competencies rather than prescriptive tasks. As commercial operators and training providers look toward the future, we expect to see continued investments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mixed reality technology that will help tomorrow’s students more quickly, efficiently, and effectively close their knowledge gaps. This will lead to a better, safer, and more efficient aviation industry.

Methodology

New personnel demand is calculated based on a 20-year fleet forecast for commercial aviation aircraft with more than 30 seats. By analyzing fleet growth, aircraft utilization, attrition rates and regional differences in crewing specific to aircraft type, Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook estimates the number of new pilots, maintenance technicians and cabin crew members needed worldwide.

Variations to the forecast can occur on a year-over-year basis as a result of many factors, some of which include changes in regulations, crew productivity and aircraft mix. The forecast does not currently include assumptions for single-pilot commercial airplane operations. However, it does consider impacts from alternative modes of transportation, such as advanced air mobility and high-speed rail. We continue to track the market for indications of regulatory movement and will update our forecast accordingly.

Outlook by Region

20 Year Pilot, Technician, and Cabin Crew Outlook Chart