Boeing Predicts 20-Year Demand For 649,000 Pilots


Boeing is predicting the aviation industry will need a staggering 2.3 million skilled workers over the next 20 years to meet the growing demand for air travel. The company said in its annual manpower forecast that 649,000 pilots, 690,000 technicians and 938,000 cabin crew will be needed as the current wave of retirements plays out and demand expands in newly developing markets, particularly Asia. Only about 20 percent of those jobs will be filled in North America.

To get those staffing numbers as the flow from traditional sources like the military, charter and regional carriers diminishes, many airlines are ramping up their in-house training. Boeing says it’s doing its bit by creating training programs that are more efficient and effective. “With domestic air travel fully recovered and international traffic near pre-pandemic levels, demand for aviation personnel continues to increase,” said Chris Broom, vice president, Commercial Training Solutions, Boeing Global Services. “Our competency-based training and assessment offerings will help ensure high quality training for future and current aviation professionals and continue enhancing aviation safety through immersive and virtual training solutions.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Sorry, but this totally flies in the face (NPI) of the West’s commitment to reducing CO2. I appreciate the US is trying very hard to buck that trend given how powerful Big Oil is there (with some notable state exceptions eg CA) but to imaging things are going to just carry on as they are (let alone significantly expand) is insane! Who are they trying to kid? High speed (electric) rail is a far more likely contender for huge expansion in that time frame.

    • The article states for new developing markets, particularly Asia. Only 20% of the workforce from the US. That means 4/5 will be happening on your side of the pond! And as another has mentioned, high speed rail has not been a consideration. If you study both the land mass and topography of the US you may understand why.

    • Two things:

      1) I’d suggest you take an extended vacation and visit the US for a week. Drive from New York City to Los Angeles and then tell us how high speed rail would work for everyone in between (as well as public bus transportation pipe dreams).

      2) Maybe you haven’t heard the news in the past 25 years or so, but California has been trying to get a successful high speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nobody out there is jumping up and down crying about not having their magical high speed rail.

    • not sure if this is meant seriously – can you explain, exactly, what *binding* “West’s commitment to reducing CO2.” have been made? According to UK oil and gas regulator North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) a month ago quoted by Reuters, the UK is producing 1.3 million barrels equiv. per day still and was consuming about that much oil daily as of Dec. 2022. per CEIC. According to data on worldpopulationreview dot com (latest data available is 2020) , the UK is currently getting 72% of it’s energy from oil and natural gas, while the USA is getting 71%. So it seems like these countries claiming great strides in combatting carbon and other warming gas emissions are just posturing and making distant “commitments” for the 2030s to move away from carbon fuels, but not actually changing and behavior in the present. I am going to set an ambitious loose 40 lb (or three stone), but I will change my diet in 2035. There – I have made a commitment, let me congratulate myself!!

      “with some notable state exceptions eg CA” – Uh, California has twice as many cars as the next most populous state (evil oil-land Texas) (14m vs 7m) but only has 30% more people than TX (39m vs 30m). California is the 7th most car-loving state per person, and 5 of the 7 most car-using states per person are so called “progressive” (NY, NJ, Md, Mass., etc.). Actions speak louder than words.

      You use the phrase “Who are they trying to kid?” but I would ask you the same. Air travel is going no where but up, according to any sane data model and not wishful thinking. As others have said, high speed rail was tried in California and not successful by any measure. There is no business case for it, even with the US Federal Transit Administration “New Starts” grants paying up to 80% of capital costs to build the rail, plus even lower viability standards on nearly $75B in additional grants in various stimulus plans in the past 4 years. Not saying that is a good idea for the environment for world air travel to keep climbing, but the data is the data. Again, if you look at per capita air travel per state, California and other “progressive” states have air travel utilization essentially the same as that Evil Oil Texas.

  2. No, high-speed rail is a complete bust here in the US. Maybe a 20 year forecast is a bit much, but there is no denying the current trend.

  3. Do you know what happens if demand for air travel is not met? Nothing. With no viable competition other than staying home, airlines will happily raise prices and keep flights in short supply. As long as there’s enough floor space in the terminal for folks to sprawl out and sleep, the airline industry is staffed just fine.

  4. If there is money to be made by keeping flights full, then that’s the course the airlines will follow. If demand is cyclical and far to variable to justify adding fleet to meet peak, then people will see delays/bumps during peak travel demand. It’s to cost of doing business folks. Companies (even airlines) are here to make money. If they can’t do that, then they go out of business. So, get used to seeing long lines during holidays, pilot / flight / ground crew shortages, overworked/underpaid complaints, etc… The dollar reigns supreme everywhere and people are a “replaceable” resource. That’s the way of the world.

  5. Boeing Predicts 20-Year Demand For 649,000 Pilots.
    When I saw this article, I took a sip of my morning coffee, and I reminisced about old times. BITD, as I recall, would be pilots were a dime a dozen and airline jobs were almost nonexistent. Shaking an orange tree in Florida, ATPS would fall out! Schools, such as Burnside Ott, in Florida, were churning out pilots by the dozen every day. In fact, I got checked out for an ATP on their DC-3.
    For all these pilots, jobs were few and far between. Militantly pilots kept the airlines fully functional and unless you knew someone high up or had other attributes the civilian pilot no matter how much experience was left out in the cold. The cost to the civilian pilot was enormous to get the needed licenses to qualify for an airline job. That is still very true to this day. Now the militaries are not pumping out pilots like they used to. This is causing the airlines to rethink their hiring procedures; in fact, they are hiring pilots with little or no time or experience except for computer skills and a college degree. The degree could be Basket Weaving-a difficult Art that requires much dedication to Randing, Pairing and Weaving- any degree that would show dedication to studying.
    Airlines, back then, had a test called ‘The Stanine’ to weed out pilots. Please don’t get upset with me; you have to laugh when on the test – which I took in Palo Alto California, with the door locked – one of the questions on there was: ‘Where are Harley-Davidson motorcycles made’? Another question was: ‘What is the chief ingredient of Vichyssoise’? See below and you tell me what the answer is. WTF does this have to do with flying an airplane.
    –Vichyssoise from Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a classic Julia Child’s recipe – simple and delicious. Although it has only a few ingredients: the soup base (chicken stock), leeks, potatoes, whipping cream, salt and white pepper, and chives for garnish,
    Airlines were very picky BITD, if you had a speeding ticket-careless and reckless, into the waste basket with that resume – or any other human violation, or if you were a civilian pilot with 5000 hours of Cessna 150 time, you might as well forget getting a job with the airlines.
    Here we are, with an article like this, geared I think, to entice young people on to the flight deck of an airliner. One only has to look at the news about the passengers and the airlines problems and think seriously of working in such a chaotic situation. There are rude passengers, oversold flights, parking wars, angry passengers due to being squished into small seats next to a large derriere passenger, drunk passengers, baggage meltdowns, air temperature over hundred degrees on board, people with allergies, fist fights, passengers opening emergency exits, and the list goes on and on. I’m not sure I’d like to be the captain on these planes. Would you want to work as a cabin crew member? I still remember PSA with its excellent cabin service.
    The cost to get licenses and ratings and a college degree is enormous. Unless a young person is dedicated to aviation and has very rich, understanding, parents, and the hard knocks that go with achieving a decent job, it could be a losing gamble. Ernest K. Gann would turn over in his grave were he alive today.
    Now that I’m 84 years old, retired and living happily ever after in an old-timer’s departure lounge, I still go out to a local airport, where I think I died and went to Heaven, and fly the Boeing 737-800 NG Simulator. There, in Canton, Massachusetts, is a small little flight school-Global Flight Adventures- that trains pilots and introduces anyone that wants to have an adventure on a flight around the world as a captain on a 737 or a Cessna 172, High school children, and old folk such as I. Everyone will be taken care of by a professional FAA certificated instructor.
    My copilot, last week on the Boeing 737-800NG, was a retired F-16 fighter pilot, Moses Arbel. Airline pilots, from around the world, stop by this flight simulator school to hone their skills for upcoming tests.
    Recently, I made a decent landing and managed to taxi safely (It is difficult to Taxi a Boeing airliner and stay on the correct lines at airports) over the narrow bridge, to the terminal, at Kai Tak’s old airport. What fun I’m having in my old age. ‘Come on down’, as Ernie Bock, a local car dealer, would say. Try aviation, as a captain in a simulator, and maybe save money and frustration and have a happy ending.