Boeing’s 20-Year Pilot, Technician Outlook Spurs Optimism, JSfirm Says

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Boeing’s latest 20-year Pilot and Technician Outlook leaves reasons to be hopeful despite the COVID-19 pandemic, say officials at, which provides an aviation job website. 

Hiring is expected to return as the industry bounces back, the firm says. 

Boeing’s outlook, which accounts for the impact of COVID-19, underscores a long-term need for aviation professionals. Before the pandemic, the aviation industry experienced a growing shortage of pilots, technicians and crewmembers. The current industry downturn has led to a temporary oversupply, underscored by furloughs, early retirements and personnel cutbacks, Boeing’s outlook noted. 

It is not the first time that outside forces have decreased demand.  

Following the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s and the 2008 financial crisis, recovery generally followed several years later as the fundamentals that drive passenger and air traffic demand continues, Boeing said. 

In the meantime, “the short-term oversupply allows operators the opportunity to build their pipeline in anticipation of growth returning in the next few years,” Boeing said in its outlook. 

Boeing’s outlook provides reasons for optimism, officials say.

Boeing’s predictions will produce confidence across the aviation industry,” said Abbey Hunter, executive director. “We have hundreds of companies that are actively hiring. As the industry continues to recover, we will see the demand for aviation professionals return to their pre-COVID levels.”

Boeing’s outlook predicts demand for 763,000 pilots from 2020 through 2039 in the commercial, business jet and civil helicopter sectors, down 5% from its outlook a year ago. It also predicts 20-year demand for 739,000 technicians, down 3.9% from a year ago, and 903,000 cabin crewmembers, down 1.22%. Of the total, the business aviation and civil helicopter sectors are expected to see personnel demand for 319,000 pilots, technicians and crewmembers over the next 20 years. 

Meeting the projected long-term demand will require a collective effort across the aviation industry, Boeing said. 

“As tens of thousands of pilots, technicians and cabin crewmembers reach retirement age over the next decade, educational outreach and career pathway programs will be essential to inspiring and recruiting the next generation,” Boeing said. 

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.