Airlines are seeing greater numbers of their pilots being poached by competing carriers, a sure sign that the long-expected pilot shortage is kicking in despite continued economic gloom in the US and Europe.

The comments from Boeing Flight Services vice-president Sherry Carbary came at the release the 2011 version of Boeing's annually updated analysis of the airline industry's growing needs for skilled personnel such as pilots and technicians over the next 20 years. In 2010 Boeing's study predicted a need for 446,500 new pilots over the next 20 years, but now Carbary says that has risen to 459,600. Boeing's prediction for the number of fully trained technicians airlines will need has climbed from 596,500 to 650,000.

The average annual training need to meet that demand is 23,000 new pilots and 32,000 new technicians.

In the 2011-2030 period, according to Boeing's new figures, by far the biggest demand will come from Asia, because that is where the economic growth is, said Carbary. She also warned that a great deal of the Asian requirement for expert personnel has historically been met by expats, whereas in future the latter will be needed in their home markets,

Asia Pacific pilot demand is predicted to be 40% of the total, said Carbary, whereas in the 1970s it was 2%. Comparative needs in North America and Europe respectively are 18% and 20% and a far higher proportion of those figures is for replacements rather than the additional needs generated by growth. The regional share of demand figures are almost the same for technicians.

Source: Flight Daily News