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Career Pilot Demand Forecast for 2023

There has never been a better time to become an airline pilot than now. The demand for qualified pilots is increasing due to several key factors, meaning that pilots in training today have a bright career outlook.

The FAA’s 2022-2042 Aerospace Forecast cites the airline pilot shortage as an ongoing issue that is likely to persist. Boeing’s Pilot & Technician Outlook projects that 128,000 pilots are needed in North America. The major contributing factors fueling the global pilot shortage include airline pilot retirements versus pilots training to replace them and increasing demand for air travel with record numbers of passengers.

As airline pilots approach the mandatory retirement age of 65, the number of retirees is driving the demand for new pilots.80,000 airline pilots are set to retire over the next 20 years. United Airlines estimates that half of their 12,500 pilots will retire over the next ten years and that they will need to hire 10,000 pilots over that period to keep pace with growth. American Airlines has similar projections, with 7,200 of their 15,000 pilots set to retire over the next decade. The lifting of coronavirus-related sanctions on air travel has rebounded demand more quickly in North America than elsewhere, resulting in an acute pilot shortage in the region. This shortage is expected to widen throughout the decade, with North America projected to be short nearly 30,000 pilots by 2032.

The increased demand for air travel by consumers has been caused by economic growth and all leading aircraft manufacturers are projecting that their commercial jet fleets will increase (even double) to meet this demand.

More than 100 aviation regulatory agencies worldwide trust the current Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, which concludes that the aviation industry will need to supply more than 602,000 commercial airline pilots worldwide over the next 20 years2. Boeing’s Current Market Outlook forecasts a market value of $7.2 trillion for new airplane deliveries, with the global fleet increasing by 80% through 2041 compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels6. The commercial services market to meet this demand is valued at $3.6 trillion.

Airbus is predicting that the demand for new passenger and freighter aircraft will double in the next 20 years. They state that there will be a need for 39,500 new aircraft over the next 20 years, with 60% of those being for growth and 40% for replacement.

Embraer is a top aircraft manufacturer that has produced over 5,000 aircraft. It is the market leader for commercial jets that seat up to 150 people. According to its Market Outlook, there will be a demand for 10,950 new aircraft that seat up to 150 people in the next 20 years. This market is valued at $650 billion. Embraer predicts that the demand for air transport will increase by 3.2% annually through 2041.

Many airlines are hiring and facing a shortage of qualified pilots. To attract pilots, many regionals are offering tuition reimbursement, competitive bonus packages, and opportunities to go straight from ATP at 1,500 hours to an Airbus or Boeing flight deck. In the last 12 months, airlines hired 1174 ATP graduates, which is expected to accelerate throughout 2023.

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