Airline Pilot Hiring OutlookCareer Pilot Demand Forecast for 2021
Now is the time to become an airline pilot. Pilots training today face a bright career outlook with several key factors driving demand for qualified pilots.
The major contributing factors fueling the global pilot shortage include:
- Airline pilot retirements versus pilots training to replace them.
- Increasing demand for air travel with record numbers of passengers.
Aviation Industry Facing Post-Pandemic Pilot Shortage
Airline pilots are required to retire at age 65, and an aging workforce approaching this mandatory retirement is creating a shortage of airline pilots.
80,000 Airline Pilots Are Retiring
Over the next 20 years, 80,000 airline pilots are retiring. United Airlines alone estimates half of their 12,500 pilots will retire over the next ten years, and they will need to hire 10,000 pilots over that period to keep pace with growth3. American Airlines has similar projections, with 7,200 of their 15,000 pilots set to retire over the next decade4.
Post-Pandemic Pilot Shortage
Early retirements taken during the coronavirus pandemic are accelerating the demand for new pilots to enter the industry and begin training. By 2023, a shortage of 12,000 pilots is expected due to these COVID-related early retirements, as well as mandatory retirements5.
Economic growth has contributed to increasing passenger demand that has exceeded long-term averages6. Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer, all leading aircraft manufacturers, project increasing (even doubling) their commercial jet fleets to account for these demands for air travel by consumers.
Trusted by more than 100 aviation regulatory agencies worldwide, the current Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook concludes that the aviation industry will need to supply more than 763,000 commercial airline pilots worldwide over the next 20 years. Boeing's Current Market Outlook reports that the global commercial jet fleet is projected to double in size by 2039. To meet demand, Boeing forecasts deliveries of over 44,000 new commercial aircraft in the coming years.
Airbus, an international manufacturer of passenger aircraft ranging in size from 100-seat jetliners to the 850 passenger double-deck A380, states in their Global Market Forecast that airline traffic is forecast to double in size in the next 15 years. Airbus believes the small commercial aircraft segment, like the new A220, will represent 76% of the deliveries. Airbus notes that commercial aviation has been resilient to external shocks, with traffic more than doubling in size since 2000.
Embraer is one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. It has produced more than 5,000 aircraft and is the market leader for commercial jets with up to 150 seats. Embraer's Market Outlook projects 10,550 new jet deliveries, with up to 150 seats, over the next 20 years. Embraer foresees worldwide demand for air transport, increasing an average of 4.4% annually through 2038.