Boeing’s latest forecast has cut predicted demand for commercial airline pilots and technicians in the Asia-Pacific region by 5 percent but strong growth will still see the region account for a third of global demand over the next 20 years.
The US aerospace giant’s 2018 pilot and technician outlook forecasts the Asia-Pacific will need 240,000 commercial sector pilots over the next 20 years.
Of these, 128,500 would be needed in the burgeoning China market, with 48,500 required in South-East Asia and 42,750 in South Asia.
Demand is closely linked to new aircraft deliveries and the region will account for 40 percent of new passenger planes over the two decades.
Boeing attributed the 5 percent fall in demand to regional trends that indicated a peak in pilot retirements in the first decade and a softening of replacement demand in later years due to a younger generation entering the pilot ranks.
The forecast demand for commercial technicians is also down 5 percent to 242,000.
This was due to increased maintenance efficiency on new generation aircraft such as the 737 MAX which require fewer maintenance hours over their life.
China again accounted almost half of the total with 126,750 technicians needed over the two decades, followed by Southeast Asia (54,000) and South Asia (35,000).
However, the demand for commercial airline cabin crew was up 3 percent to 317,000 due to the mix of aircraft in airline fleets, new cabin configurations and regulatory requirements.
More than 147,000 of these would be needed in China with 76,250 required in Southeast Asia and 43,250 in South Asia.
The forecast for the first time looked at the helicopter and business aviation markets. The inclusion of these sectors boosted the overall demand for pilots to 261,000 while the figure for technicians increased to 257,000 technicians and that for cabin crew to 321,000.
“Strong demand for pilots in the region continues, and we expect that this will continue for the next several years,” Keith Cooper, Boeing Global Services’ vice president of training & professional services said in a statement. “Through our pilot training solutions, including the Pilot Development Program, we are helping to ensure a pipeline of pilots is ready to meet the industry’s demand.
The tight pilot market has prompted Qantas to set up its own training academy and the airline confirmed last week this would be based at two locations in regional Australia.
The airline plans to train up to 100 pilots a year but expects this to grow to as many as 500 annually, including candidates from overseas, once it has more than one location.