Pilot project

We’ve just made available online the latest addition to our Current Market Outlook - our global forecast for pilot and maintenance personnel demand over the next 20 years.

You may have read about this new projection Boeing released several weeks back. Essentially, our forecast finds that the commercial aviation industry will need more than a million new pilots and technicians between now and 2029.

When you break it down, that’s a demand for more than 466,000 pilots and more than 596,000 technicians!

Taken another way, we think airlines will need an average of 23,300 new pilots and 30,000 new maintenance personnel per year during the forecast period.


Fleet growth and pilot retirements will basically double the demand for pilots over the next 20 years. In 2010 we have 232,100 pilots globally. By 2029 we expect that number to increase to 445,000. In terms of total demand over the forecast period that means a need for 466,650 pilots - taking into account the replacement of retirees and other turnover in the industry. Click on the chart to go to the 2010 pilot and technician forecast.

Of course, this huge requirement goes hand in hand with the projected growth in world airplane fleets over the same period of time. When you look at these numbers you realize it’s going to be a challenge to meet the demand that this growth calls for.

In particular, where we see the largest growth - in the Asia-Pacific region - we also see the largest demand for people: 180,600 pilots and 220,000 maintenance workers. In China alone we see a need for 70,600 pilots and 96,400 maintenance workers over the next 20 years.

The challenge for Boeing and our industry partners is not only to help our customers manage this growth, but to align our training methods and technologies to match the needs of the people who will fly and maintain the world’s fleet now and in the future.

Boeing is working hard to help develop and expand the training infrastructure needed in Asia to meet the demand for pilots and technicians as the Asia-based airlines grow.

That’s why we’re investing in and creating world-class training facilities in Asia - we just launched our 787 training facility in Singapore, for example. We’re also partnering with airlines such as Shanghai Airlines in China and ANA in Japan on training facilities in those countries.


Pilot training in progress in a 787 full flight simulator at Boeing’s Training & Flight Services campus in Seattle.

There’s no magic solution to meeting the pilot and technician demand. Ultimately, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing - continuing to develop better, more advanced training programs, taking into consideration the diverse background of our trainees.

It’s going to allow us to meet the tremendous need for people, as well as more efficiently and effectively train and prepare them for important roles in our industry.

Comments (3)

Vero Venia (Montreal, Canada):

The aviation industry provides jobs to millions of people as I mentioned in the comment to your post here. Those jobs include pilots, mechanics, baggage handlers and so on and so on.

I appreciate that you posted an entry concerning one of the most important elements in the aviation industry that is the people and their skill.

I believe the services in the aviation industry (training, flight ops support, maintenance etc) already generate a huge business. I am wondering if the turnover in the services doesn't exceed aircraft manufacturing.

I am also wondering whether the shortage of skilled staff in the aviation industry won't trigger a huge "brain drain" flow to airlines which offer better pay. The good news is that this will increase the salaries. The bad thing is that some airlines won't be able to retain their best talents.

Freddy Hagens (Everett):

Refer to the chart. The colors in the legend do not come across very well for the shades of blue. The dark blue represents North America? It is missing from the legend.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

If you think about it, it is over 1,000,000 people around the world with good paying skilled jobs in a span of twenty years. This is a great opportunity for people who are in high school and college right now to think about a career in aviation in aircraft maintenance and being a commercial pilot.

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