How the aviation industry is (not) addressing the engineering shortage

How the aviation industry is (not) addressing the engineering shortage



Aviation is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Despite currently going through challenging times that willdefineits future direction,it has already been facing paradigm shifts on many levels.If theindustry continues to grow as expectedfor the next 20 years, it needs to be followed by an increment of its workforce.According toBoeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook, an internationally recognized forecast of personnel demand for the aviation industry, “804,000 new pilots, 769,000 new maintenance technicians, and 914,000 new cabin crew will be needed to fly and maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years”.However, as the industry stands now, it will not be able to meet the demand for maintenance personnel, which will have a major impact on the airlines. Asstated inthe above-mentioned global forecast,in Europe alone,airlines will require 137,000 new technicians. With thousands of engineers reaching retirement age over the next decade and with a lownumberof entrantsinto aviation maintenance,thisraises a question. Who is going to maintain the world fleetin the near future?

What is the aviation industry doing to help address the demand?  

Withglobal demand forskilledprofessionalsreaching unprecedented levels in the coming years, the aviation industryis farfrom preventing theproblem.A worrying prospect considering thatthe world’s aircraft commercial fleet willmore than double by 2038.Simply stated, the next generationofpersonnelhas been the focus of the proposed approach to solve the challenge of an anticipated shortage.Furthermore, as advances in aircraft technology will continue to grow, there will be a demand for the development of new knowledge andskillsets. New training methods would have to be implemented and educational outreach programs about careers inaviationmaintenance need to be established in order to inspire and recruit thenext generation of aviation professionals.The missing point is that, in the meantime, not only the fight for skilled professionals willcontinue, butalso the most experienced ones will expecthigher wages.The lack of long-term results has been pointed out by experts within the industry. “In an environment where airlines are increasingly having to find waystocut their costs to survive, how sustainable can that be?”, questionedPatrickMorcusin anarticlewrittenway before the worrying predictions.

The pace of change 

The severity of the engineering shortagewill vary fromregion to regionandcompany to company,butoverall,it is better to act now than reactlater. What can airlines and MRO (maintenance, repair,and overhaul) organizations do to make sure they have the workforce they need?The first steps have been made towards mitigating the potential issues related to global demand. For example,Boeing Global Servicesdeveloped a toolcalled Airplane Health Managementthatprovidesreal-timestatus of an operator’s entire fleet.This tool is not only valuable to avoid unplanned maintenance but also to preserve human resources.Robots are poised to become the major trend to overcome the issue.They are already popping up at airports(Spencer at Schiphol Airport or Pepper at Oakland Airport),freeing humans from dull and repetitive tasks.While artificial intelligence (AI)beginsto play a bigger part in the customer experience,the adoption of innovative solutions in aircraft maintenanceshouldalso continueapace.Consider the job of anaircraftengineer, whose tasks are laborious, repetitive and time-consuming.The advances in roboticsare attempting to change this, byreinventing inspectionprocesses.Want to learn more about the rise of robotics in the aviation industry? Check outthe lastblog post.

Flying into the future 

Almost 30 percent of delayed flights are due to unscheduled aircraft inspections.These are usually long andbring unwelcome costs to airlines.With an automatedinspection tool such as the one developed byMainblades,aircraft damage assessment can be easily performed. Caused by bird or lightning strikes,the whole process of damage detection and reportis considerably reduced from 8 to 1 hour.Instead of involving multiple personnel operating heavy equipment in a process that can last for hours, the damage assessment can be done with robot speed and accuracy, using the out-of-the-box tool provided byMainblades.It is a win-win solution: while the aircraft engineer can easilyanalyze and report the status of the aircraft, the airline can quickly act in order to minimize the mountingcosts due to delayed flights.To avoid a lag between the time the aircraft inspection process is reinvented and when it reverberates in the workplace, we would like to hear some feedback. Share your thoughts!

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