The global aviation industry is booming. The International Air Transport Association (ATA) believes that the airline industry’s profits will reach up to 38.4 billion US dollars in 2018. In the next 20 years, the number of airline passengers is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 4 percent. The increase in passengers and airplanes means a demand for additional airline personnel including aviation mechanics.
The United States is the second fastest-growing market in terms of annual additional passengers in the next 20 years, according to the International Air Transport Association (ATA). The North American region also will grow by 2.3 percent annually and in 2036 will carry a total of 1.2 billion passengers, an additional 452 million passengers per year.
Reasons for Aviation Mechanic Shortage
There are many different reasons for the shortage in quality aviation mechanics. In the next 20 years there will be an increase in passengers, technologically advanced aircraft and demand for aviation mechanics. A large percentage of the workforce will retire, leaving a shortfall of qualified aviation mechanics. Millennials and generation Z will be next in line to learn aircraft mechanic techniques and attend trade school programs. The options will continue to increase for those getting an aviation mechanic diploma to take positions as wind turbine technicians and other types of mechanics. The technological sophistication of airplanes will increase as a modern fleet of airplanes begins to replace outdated aircraft. New aircraft will emerge as air taxis, moving people in the sky rather than on ground. Lastly, there will be an expansion in the aviation market with an increase in income spent on air travel, new routes, and an increase in the number of first-time flyers.
Increase in passengers: The number of passengers is expected to increase in the coming decades. Passenger traffic is also expected to rise globally. More passengers mean more aviation professionals will be needed to service those passengers and more aviation mechanics will be needed to maintain the airplanes, light aircraft, helicopters and air taxis.
Increasing demand: Over the next two decades, nearly 120,000 new commercial aviation maintenance technicians will be needed in North America alone. By 2036, an estimated 648,000 will be needed worldwide. Oliver Wyman’s 2017 maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) survey suggests that the gap between the demand and supply of aviation mechanics in the US will develop by 2022 and reach a peak of 9 percent by 2027.
Aging workforce: The median age of aviation mechanics is around 50 years old, which means many will retire in the near future, leaving a demand for qualified aviation mechanics.
The number of mechanics retiring will outpace those entering the profession. While a large percentage of the workforce is at or near retirement age, new entrants make up only a small percentage of the workforce population yearly.
Choice of jobs: Many students who train to become aviation mechanics choose careers in other industries. Why? Aviation technology is used not just in planes but across several other industries as well. Similar turbine engines, for example, are used in wind turbines, race cars and boats. Overall, the aviation mechanic workforce is struggling to maintain a qualified labor force to meet growing global demand.
Modern fleet: The Oliver Wyman forecast shows that the worldwide fleet will total 37,978 aircraft by 2028, up from the 2018 total of 26,307. By 2028, 55 percent of the fleet will have been designed and built after 2000, which means they will have advanced systems, materials, and components that keep operating costs down.
With this, airlines will gradually retire older, less fuel-efficient models. By 2028, more than 36 percent of the fleet will consist of aircraft built in 2010 or later, which will be equipped with advanced sensors, data collection, analytics, and autonomous functions. More advanced airplanes, light aircraft, helicopters and air taxis with advanced technologies will mean a greater need for highly qualified aviation mechanics that have been taught to work on a wide variety of airplanes, helicopters, and wind turbines.
Market expansion: The 2017 Airbus Global Market Forecast says that over 2017-2036, expanding tourism, industry liberalization, rising disposable income spent on air travel, new routes, evolving airline business models, and increasing numbers of first-time flyers will drive the need for 34,170 passenger and 730 freighter aircraft.
The Asia/Oceania region, the largest aviation market in the world, represents more than one-third of the world’s capacity. This region may also experience shortage in aviation mechanics. Should it be difficult to train the technicians there, aerospace manufacturers and suppliers may have to provide aviation mechanics from other countries, such as the US.
With the increase demand for aircraft mechanics, the time is right to attend an aviation mechanic program at your local trade school. An exciting and life-long career could be right around the corner.
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