Boeing Releases 2020 Pilot and Technician Outlook


In its recently released 2020 Pilot and Technician Outlook, Boeing is projecting that 763,000 new civil aviation pilots will be needed globally over the next 20 years. In addition, the report forecasts a need for 739,000 new aviation maintenance technicians and 903,000 new cabin crew members from 2020 to 2039. Across the board, the numbers have fallen from Boeing’s 2019 Outlook, which projected that 804,000 pilots, 769,000 technicians and 914,000 cabin crew members would be needed through 2038.

“While the current industry downturn, driven by COVID-19, has resulted in a temporary oversupply of qualified personnel, the long-term need remains robust,” the company said in its report. “In recent decades, aviation has experienced external forces that have affected demand, such as 9/11, SARS and the Great Financial Crisis. Recovery has generally followed several years later, as the fundamentals driving passenger and air traffic demand remain strong.”

According to Boeing, its 2020 Outlook (PDF) assumes that the industry will similarly recover from the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic within the next few years. Outlook projections are based on “fleet growth, aircraft utilization, attrition rates and regional differences in crewing specific to aircraft type.” The report covers commercial aviation aircraft with more than 30 seats, business jets and civil helicopters.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. The one thing Boeing left out of their report is how many new (that is,
    additional) air traffic controllers will be required to maintain what are
    already highly imperiled margins of safety at airports around the U.S.
    It took nearly 40 years for the supply of qualified ATC to regain the
    level of strength that it had prior to Ronald Reagan’s dismantling of
    the union. The multiple dangers that this entailed were evident from
    the start, but in the last ten years, the number of accidents involving
    civil aviation pilots and aircraft has increased by 25%. While “pilot
    error” and other factors are responsible for many of these mishaps,
    there is no question that the shortage of ATC contributes its share
    to the total, and to the many fatalities that result. Boeing cannot
    ignore this problem, or evade it by saying that they are a private
    company, not a public agency. In this case, the tail of the 737
    does wag the police dog–and all too often, bribes it with treats.
    To paraphrase Tom Lehrer, “that’s not my department–Boeing
    said with a frown” is no excuse for complacency in this matter.
    The “union-busting” policies of the Reagan era did incalculable
    damage, not only to the airline industry, but to the entire fabric
    of American life. It is high time to reverse them–and there is
    no better place to begin than where the whole debacle began.
    It is not a matter of partisan politics, but of life and death–or
    of safety in the starry skies versus burial beneath the ground.

  2. “…in the last ten years, the number of accidents involving
    civil aviation pilots and aircraft has increased by 25%.”

    How did this not get reported in the aviation press? Could it be that it’s because it didn’t happen?

  3. This is pure speculation. Nobody knows at this point in time how global or even national / regional air traffic is going to recover.