The next 20 years will be an unprecedented time for the airline industry with a Boeing forecast stating that about half a million new airline pilots will be needed worldwide. According to the large commercial jetliner manufacturer, 465,000 new pilots will be needed worldwide between now and 2031.
As global economies grow airlines will increase their network of commercial jetliners by tens of thousands. Boeing also forecasted that 69,000 new pilots in the North American region and an estimated 185,600 new pilots will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region, which is predicted to have the most growth. With this news, however, there have been safety concerns that airlines will hire lower level pilots in order to fill much needed pilot spots.
Boeing's chief of Pilot service, Carl Davis, who presented Boeing's forecast last Thursday at a pilot training conference in Washington, said to The Associated Press, "We have airlines around the world as they buy our airplanes and come to us on the training side of the house, saying 'We're struggling to fill (pilot) seats. Can you help us?'
The forecast stated that, currently, there is already a pilot shortage and the Asia Pacific region in particular is feeling delays and operational interruptions because of it. Industry and government officials are also concerned that the rising demand for pilots in addition to upcoming pilot retirements, as well as, increasingly difficult qualifications for new pilots that will be in effect next year, will all create a shortage in the U.S. John Allen, the Federal Aviation Administration's director of flight services told the AP that he is concerned because it has safety implications. "If the industry is stretched pretty thin ... that can result in someone getting into the system that maybe isn't really the right person to be a pilot. Not everybody is supposed to be a pilot," Allen said to The Associated Press.
According to Boeing's website, meeting the demand for more pilots will, "require airplane manufacturers and the commercial aviation industry to rely more heavily on new digital technology, including online and mobile computing, to meet the learning requirements of a new generation."