Flight Services (BFS), the U.S. aircraft-maker’s training arm, is increasing its Asia Pacific presence because the company’s “great fear” is that the region’s airlines will have insufficient numbers of skilled and qualified personnel to support the projected fleet growth.
From 2012 to 2030 the world’s airlines need to recruit 460,000 new pilots, and Asia Pacific accounts for 185,600 of that total, says BFS. Within Asia Pacific, China will require 71,300 pilots; Southeast Asia 51,500; Southwest Asia 31,100 and Northeast Asia 18,800.
And of the 601,000 maintenance technicians required for the same period, Asia Pacific accounts for 243,500, or 41%, according to BFS. Again, China is the largest market in the region, requiring 99,400 technicians, followed by Southeast Asia with 67,400, Southwest Asia with 33,100, and Northeast Asia with 26,500.
“This is Boeing’s great fear—we can sell you the aircraft, but if you [the airline] don’t have enough maintenance technicians and pilots, then the aircraft are going to end up sitting on the ground,” Bob Bellitto, BFS global sales director, said during an Aug. 27 media briefing in Singapore.
“There are areas other than banking where people can have a good job,” Bellitto noted.
Singapore is home to several maintenance, repair and overhaul firms, but the city-state is also positioned as a global financial centre. The country’s aerospace industry—like those in other developed Asian countries—is battling to compete for educated talent against the high-paying banking and finance industries.
Some of Boeing’s largest customers are based in Southeast Asia.(SIA), for example, is one of the largest operators in the world and SIA’s short-haul operation has signed a letter-of-intent to order 23 -800s and 31 737-8s with purchase rights for 14 more narrowbodies.
Indonesia’s Lion Air last year also signed a firm order for 230 737s, the largest single commercial order in Boeing’s history.
BFS earlier this year signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia’s transport ministry to assist the country’s civil aviation sector to develop a sufficient number of pilots and maintenance technicians to support the country’s growing fleet. “Indonesia is purchasing a lot of airplanes and we will help,” Bellitto said.
Bellitto said BFS may help Indonesia to screen candidates by testing job applicants for English language skills and aptitude. He also said BFS may station some of its type-rating instructors at Indonesian simulator centers, and may partner with Indonesian flying schools to provide them with the necessary course materials to provide ab initio and multi-crew pilot license training.
BFS’ business unit Jeppesen, which provides course materials to international flying schools around the globe, is in discussions with some flying schools in Indonesia, Bellitto added. BFS operates simulator training centers of its own—one of its largest is in Singapore—but has always been cautious when asked about the possibility of establishing a center in Indonesia.
Expansion, however, continues elsewhere, with Bellitto noting that a simulator center soon will open in Istanbul. BFS also just installed a Boeing 717 simulator into a center in Stockholm, and last year stationed some of its instructors at a simulator center in Baku, Azerbaijan.