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.