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.
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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))