Royal Aeronautical Society Feature: Where Have All The eVTOL Pilots and Maintenance Workers Gone?

While the title is rem­i­nis­cent of the famous folk song, Where Have All the Flow­ers Gone, with the eVTOL indus­try it is more a case of not so much going, but not appear­ing… yet. www.aerosociety.com pos­es this impor­tant ques­tion dur­ing an inter­view with Stel­la-Maris­sa Hugh­es, Canada’s CAE Advanced Air Mobil­i­ty Ana­lyst.

With a glob­al short­age of both air­line pilots and main­te­nance work­ers expect­ed to only get worse dur­ing the com­ing years, the obvi­ous ques­tion being: Who is going to oper­ate the raft of eVTOLs that are promised to grace our skies with­in the decade?

Inter­view­er, Stephen Bridge­wa­ter, first lays out the chal­lenges faced, point­ing out that the gen­er­al avi­a­tion indus­try “has been grap­pling with a sig­nif­i­cant pilot short­age after the glob­al pan­dem­ic of 2020 and that short­fall is pre­dict­ed to grow to any­where between 35,000 and 50,000 by the mid­dle of this decade.”

Stel­la-Maris­sa Hugh­es (Cred­it: VFS Video)

He goes on, “Dur­ing this summer’s Paris Air­show, flight train­ing provider CAE fore­cast a need to recruit 1.3 mil­lion new avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als by 2032. The company’s 2023 Avi­a­tion Tal­ent Fore­cast expects a need for 284,000 pilots, 402,000 main­te­nance tech­ni­cians, and 599,000 cab­in crew in the com­mer­cial and busi­ness avi­a­tion sec­tors alone to fill vacan­cies due to retire­ment and attri­tion, and the expan­sion of the avi­a­tion indus­try.”

Mean­while, a recent study of the avi­a­tion engi­neer­ing sec­tor by recruit­ment con­sul­tan­cy, Aero­Pro­fes­sion­al, claims 27 per­cent of the air­craft engi­neer­ing work­force are due to retire in the next decade. Fur­ther­more, it claims 45 per­cent of engi­neers are con­sid­er­ing switch­ing to anoth­er indus­try.

Refer­ring to this as “a per­fect storm of dwin­dling work­ers and increas­ing demand”, Bridge­wa­ter asks the glar­ing ques­tion, “Where does this leave the fledg­ling AAM mar­ket?”

Hugh­es’ answers are opti­mistic and hope­ful. The AAM mar­ket has much to offer those seek­ing a career in this inno­v­a­tive and ground­break­ing indus­try. eVTOLs are eas­i­er to fly and should require less train­ing time.

Please Watch Video

Coun­ter­act­ing this, Hugh­es believes eVTOL salaries could be less. She points out that while present com­mer­cial pilot salaries in the UK, for exam­ple, are around UKP50,000, some 21 per­cent high­er than the nation­al aver­age, the eco­nom­ics of oper­at­ing fly­ing taxis, in the ear­ly days cer­tain­ly, could demand much low­er wages. But when coun­ter­act­ed by the ini­tial kudos of fly­ing such new craft and a poten­tial bet­ter qual­i­ty of life, where short­er hours allows anoth­er part-time busi­ness or study time, the field remains attrac­tive, espe­cial­ly to younger peo­ple seek­ing employ­ment.

The inter­view is well worth a read. It is too ear­ly to come up with any defin­i­tive answers, espe­cial­ly con­cern­ing main­te­nance work­ers. Hugh­es points out, “How can a main­tain­er be cer­ti­fied to work on the vari­ety of such dif­fer­ing designs that OEMs hope will reach the mar­ket in the com­ing years?” Yet, she sober­ing­ly says, “Any OEM that is look­ing to start oper­a­tions in 2026/2027 needs to start think­ing now about who will be oper­at­ing, main­tain­ing and fly­ing their vehi­cles.”

No doubt, Archer and Joby, amongst a few oth­ers, will become the pio­neers to over­come this press­ing prob­lem, and be a bea­con of light for oth­er eVTOL OEMs to fol­low.

So, good luck.

Please Read The Inter­view 


(News Source: www.aerosociety.com)

(Top image: Apti­ma was award­ed a con­tract by the U.S. Air Force to eval­u­ate the require­ments for eVTOL pilot train­ing. (Pho­to: BETA Tech­nolo­gies))

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