According to a new study by the University of North Dakota, there will be a significant shortage of helicopter pilots and a huge decrease in the number of mechanics certified to maintain the aircraft. The study which was conducted in association with Helicopter Association International (HAI) and Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) has indicated that between now and the year 2036, the United States specifically, will experience a shortage of more than seven thousand qualified helicopter pilots yet the decrease in pilots will be experienced on a global scale as well. One wonders how this shortage will ultimately affect the helicopter hire industry on the whole?
Despite the fact that the loss in certified pilots is disheartening, it’s the loss in numbers of certified aviation mechanics that have the industry reeling. A University of North Dakota representative presenting at the Heli-Expo 2018 indicated that the United States alone could see loss collectively or more than 40,000 aviation mechanics between now and 2036. She went on further to say “Industry as a whole has been talking about it, but I’ve seen a lot less being done than on the pilot side.”
This loss of certified pilots and the mechanics necessary to maintain the aircraft will ultimately impact the helicopter hire industry on a global level. The country of China is currently in the process of improving its infrastructure and demands to accommodate the increase in population that has left the country in need of helicopter operator expertise. The demand for helicopter aircraft in the pursuit of industrial and construction development is great therefore, the deficit could hit them hard. According to reports, in 2017 there were roughly 1000 helicopters operating throughout the whole of China.
The same can be said for the American helicopter carriers who are struggling to maintain their workforce. As the demand increases, air carriers are offering greater incentive programs and smaller operators are watching their pilots leave to find work at another carrier due to a more lucrative offer. Heli-Expo attendees, industry insiders, and researchers have put their heads together to come up with some solutions to the pilot and mechanic shortage dilemma, with a few of their ideas appearing to be feasible. They are hoping to develop clearer career paths for helicopter pilots each with their own definition of what would inspire a pilot who only needs 250 hours experience to continue up the food chain to gain more flight hours and expertise?
Additionally, there will be a bigger push to attract younger people into the helicopter piloting industry. Their plan is to embrace the nature of Generation Z which is more immersed in digital technologies and going forward they will try to embrace these interests and implement them where they can to induce younger generations via proactive recruitment techniques.
In the interest of improving the aviation mechanic side, efforts will be made to recruit and recertify military mechanics to momentarily help bridge the gap between new recruits and the current generation of mechanics nearing retirement age. If you happen to be looking to work in the helicopter piloting industry or as an aviation mechanic, the time is now to get trained and certified. Air carriers need pilots in the cockpit now and may be willing to offer lucrative new hire incentive packages. The training is relatively simple to get started and as the shortage is expected to last throughout several years, you are practically guaranteed employment in the industry.