New Study Forecasts Rotorcraft Pilot And Mechanic Shortage

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A new study from Helicopter Association International (HAI) and the University of North Dakota (UND) is projecting a significant shortage of rotorcraft pilots and mechanics between now and 2036. According to the UND-HAI Rotorcraft Pilot and Mechanic Supply Forecast, “more helicopter pilots are projected to retire or leave than are incoming over the next 12 years,” leading to a shortage of more than 7,600 pilots during that time period.

On the helicopter mechanic side of the equation, the numbers get much worse. The study projects a shortage of 40,613 certificated aviation mechanics in the U.S. between 2018 and 2036. A full 67 percent of the operators surveyed for the forecast said they’re already having more difficulty hiring mechanics, with over 60 percent reporting that they’re having to hire mechanics with less experience. The study notes similar trends internationally.

The UND-HAI study’s findings mirror numbers shown in similar industry forecasts such as Boeing’s 2017 Pilot and Technician Outlook. Projections like these have caught the attention of Congress and bills aimed at supporting aviation maintenance workforce development have been introduced in both the House and the Senate over the last several months.

Comments (5)

I'm not sure this properly accounts for reduced demand for helicopter pilots due to expanding use of UASs.

Pay may increase due to competition for fixed wing pilots, which rotor guys can transition to with relative ease. That said, I'm not sure a shortage in rotor wing pilot production exists due to a changing overall market for rotor wing services.

Posted by: Scott Sykes | May 16, 2018 5:26 PM    Report this comment

The cost learning to fly the infernal contraptions will take your breath away and all of your money too!

Posted by: bruce postlethwait | May 16, 2018 7:35 PM    Report this comment

Expanded use of UAS would only shift the need from "helicopter pilots" to "UAS operators", but any UAS that has utility similar to an actual helicopter will still require maintenance. So the desperate need for Technicians would be unchanged.

Posted by: David Bunin | May 17, 2018 7:52 AM    Report this comment

It sounds a lot more likely that they release these so-called "studies' to be used as free advertisement in the aviation press....

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 17, 2018 10:45 AM    Report this comment

Do we really need yet another study to determine what is so obvious? I am a retired A&P instructor. When a high school graduate with one course in automotive mechanics can get an entry level job at $23 an hour at a Ford dealership, or worse, flip hamburgers in some states for $15 an hour, how is the aviation industry going to get people interested in aviation careers when mechanic training is now $40K and two years after high school, and pilot training is well above $75k to fly commercial....and that A&P with 5 years experience is offered $19 an hour, or that FO of a regional with all the required hours nets $23k for the first year. But I fear that I preach to the choir.

Posted by: Walt Hankinson | May 18, 2018 10:36 AM    Report this comment

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