Avionics News October 2019 - 16

In this monthly column, Ric Peri of the AEA's Washington, D.C., office, informs members of the latest regulatory updates.

B Y

R I C

P E R I
A EA V I C E P R ES I D E N T O F G OV E R N M E N T & I N D U ST RY A F FA I RS

The sky is falling!
B

oeing's often quoted Pilot & Technician Outlook
for 2019 to 2038 predicts the need for 769,000
new maintenance technicians over the next
20 years. This is a staggering number and often the basis of
headline-grabbing declarations that "the sky is falling!" Every
time I read the various headlines, it reminds me of Henny Penny
(or Chicken Little for those in North America), a folk tale about
a chicken that believes the world is ending.
When you read their complete report, you better understand
the distribution of this prediction. According to the Boeing
Outlook, "The demand will stem from a mix of fleet growth,
retirements and attrition." When looking at the methodology,
Boeing states: "New personnel demand is calculated based on
a 20-year fleet forecast for commercial aviation aircraft with
more than 30 seats, business jets, and civil helicopters." And
it continues by noting that "The forecast does not currently
include assumptions for single-pilot commercial operations or
autonomous airplanes."
Three-quarters of a million new technicians is hard to get
your mind wrapped around, especially since most shops are
struggling to find three new technicians, much less threequarters of a million. Boeing offers the following distribution
to go along with its forecast: "The need for maintenance
personnel is largest in the Asia Pacific region, which will
require 266,000 new technicians. Airlines in North America
will require 193,000, Europe 137,000, the Middle East 69,000,
Latin America 52,000, Africa 27,000, and Russia/Central Asia
25,000."
Let's put these numbers into perspective. In the United
States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics, in 2018, there
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2019

were about 136,900 aircraft mechanics and service technicians
with an additional 20,600 avionics technicians. So overall, the
U.S. industry currently accounts for a little more than 150,000
aircraft technicians. According to the BLS records, the industry
sector that Boeing addresses in its forecast is only half the
current technician population. To support the growing industry

Three-quarters of a million new technicians is
hard to get your mind wrapped around, especially
since most shops are struggling to find three new
technicians, much less three-quarters of a million.
and the anticipated retirements, we need to double the current
population of aircraft technicians in the next two decades.
In reviewing the BLS data, the employment of aircraft
and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians is listed
as 157,400 employees with a 10-year forecast growth of 3%.
When amortizing the BLS numbers out for 30 years, they align
and confirm the extreme number of new employees forecast
by the Boeing report needed to support aviation needs into the
future. In addition, these new employees do not account for
growth in light unmanned aeronautical systems (drones) or the
heavier urban mobility autonomous vehicles.
How do we do this?
The first consideration we must look at is the unemployment
rate of 3.7%. It has been five years since the unemployment
was at 7% and almost a decade since it was double digits.
Expecting the Part 147 schools to carry the load alone is not



Avionics News October 2019

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