Jose Ricardo Botelho
Executive Director
Expert Contributor

When Growth Is a Good Challenge for Commercial Aviation

By Jose Ricardo Botelho | Mon, 08/01/2022 - 13:00

An estimated 260,000 new pilots will be needed globally over the next decade, 16,000 of them for the South American region, according to CAE's Pilot Outlook Demand 2020-2029 report. Airbus, an ALTA member since 2004, projects that over 550,000 pilots and 710,000 skilled technicians will be needed worldwide in the next 20 years.

In the current context of recovery and growth in passenger demand, with the reactivation of routes, frequencies and travel possibilities, meeting this demand for aeronautical personnel is a highly relevant challenge for the aviation industry.

There are several factors that influence the growth in demand for this type of professional. Of course, there is the recovery of the industry and the growing number of people using domestic and international air transportation. But we must also consider pilot retirements and staff turnover. Currently, pilots over the age of 50 represent 38 percent of the total. In commercial aviation, about 3.8 percent of pilots are expected to retire or leave the profession annually over the next 10 years.

Airline fleet expansion is another major reason for pilot demand, as approximately 11,000 aircraft will join the global civil aviation fleet. In fact, the commercial fleet is expected to grow by 7,800 aircraft to 36,000 aircraft by 2029.

Regulatory aspects related to certifications, permits and validations also play a role and still have the opportunity to be more efficient and, especially, harmonized globally to accompany the needs of the industry.

Some regions are already facing the challenges of a workforce that cannot keep up with the growth in travel demand. Latin America and the Caribbean are not yet facing this challenge but it is urgent to take action and prepare ourselves to be able to keep up with the growth we are experiencing.

So far in 2022, Central America, the Caribbean and South America have shown the most outstanding levels of passenger traffic recovery compared to other regions of the world. Therefore, at ALTA, we are convinced of the importance of accompanying the industry in its recovery from all aspects.

In terms of personnel, we are working on initiatives that are unprecedented in the region, such as the creation of an ALTA Digital Training Hub aimed at facilitating access to training programs for more people in our countries through partnerships with specialized educational centers and universities. People interested in advancing their professional careers will be able to find in one place a wide variety of courses, institutions, topics and mentoring networks.

Accordingly, ALTA recently created its Training Committee, a working group made up of airlines and education stakeholders that will identify where the main challenges lie in attracting, retaining and developing talent. This work will not only benefit the industry and, therefore, passengers, but will also contribute to creating more jobs and bringing socioeconomic well-being to the countries of the region.

An Increasingly Inclusive Industry

The industry is also challenged to recruit more female pilots, a gender that represents less than 5 percent of the commercial aviation workforce. We are working with our partner, IAWA, to develop joint work initiatives that attract more women to the industry, support their professional training and promote workplaces that encourage diversity.

We have ahead of us a challenge of significant impact in order to be ready to offer more options to travelers. But like all challenges, it brings very interesting chances to create new jobs, support the professional development of the population and generate equal opportunities for everyone.

Photo by:   Jose Ricardo Botelho