I came across an article entitled “World needs pilots! Record growth leads to record need” on cnn.com and thought it was applicable to our operations course. Basically the article discusses a resource shortage (pilots as well as aircraft maintenance personnel) and the impacts the shortage is having on the airline industry. From the article, it appears the problem is most prevalent in Asia Pacific where the demand for airline travel has increased by as much as 35% over the past few years and forecasters expect that number to continue to rise over the next two decades. Airlines, such as VietJet Air, are rapidly expanding their aircraft fleets to meet consumer demand but are struggling to find well trained pilots to fly those planes. Apparently, the resource pool is so strained that Asia Pacific airlines are becoming heavily dependent on international pilots to meet demand which is causing an increased strain on the entire airline industry.
According to the article “the Boeing Pilot and Technical Market Outlook for 2013-2032 forecasts nearly half a million new commercial airline pilots will be needed to fly all the new airplanes entering the world fleet over the next 20 years.” That is a lot of pilots! And not just pilots; ground crew mechanics are in high demand as well. The airline industry is struggling to determine the best way to recruit talent, train talent quickly, and most importantly retain talent. The article ends by proposing that technology may provide an answer to this growing problem. Apparently virtual maintenance training is already being done by the U.S. military (used on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-16) and may soon be adapted commercially. In addition, simulation-based pilot certification training has improved over the years and is starting to take on a greater role internationally making it quicker and easier to train pilots. Will these technologies end up being the solution to the pilot/ground crew problem? Only time will tell….