A new report issued by Boeing has once again rekindled debate over whether or not a pilot shortage looms, as well as what kind of safety implications such a shortage might have for the worldwide commercial airline industry.
In its report, Boeing predicts close to half a million pilots will be needed on a global scale in the next two decades as older pilots retire and worldwide air traffic grows. According to the industry giant, many of those pilot slots needing to be filled –185,600 of them, to be exact – will be in Asia, while 69,000 of those jobs will be here in the U.S.
Aircraft maintenance personnel needs are also projected to explode, according to the report, with 601,000 new positions opening up across the world.
The report comes as we approach the fifth anniversary of Congress’ extension of the U.S. commercial pilot retirement age from 60 to 65.
Analysts say the new exodus of retiring pilots to take place as they cross that threshold, along with tougher requirements that will mandate all commercial first officers have 1,500 hours, will create new strains on the need for pilots across the spectrum.
Others, however, contend that, with the string of airline bankruptcies and recent layoffs, the U.S. will not have to deal with a pilot shortage anytime in the near future, as American pilots who’ve taken jobs abroad will likely return home once hiring picks up.
Read Robert Goyer's "Why the Coming Pilot Shortage Isn't Creating Lots of New Pilots...Yet."