Sunday, June 19, 2011

The New Challenges ... Manpower and Training

One of the greatest challenges facing the Aviation Industry globally and including MENA is trained manpower: pilots and engineers. The Industry is losing its appeal to the younger generations to sectors in the economy that are less physically demanding, less regulated and with less expensive training requirements. With the expansion of the world aircraft fleet expected to increase in the coming 25 years by another 25000 aircraft over the current fleet of 17000, the training needs become more important. By 2026 there will be a need for an additional 480,000 technicians and 350,000 pilots to maintain and fly these aircraft. Staggering numbers, a real global challenge.

MENA will be affected, some countries less than others. Taking into consideration that the UAE and Qatar have the fastest growing fleets and networks along with the corresponding additional maintenance requirements, they will be the hardest hit. Both countries have a relatively small indigenous population that can be tapped to support the aviation sector resulting in an increased  dependence on an expatriate work force. However, their traditional sources will also be hard hit, India is in need of thousands of technicians to support the existing and new aircraft orders of the airlines there and countries like Jordan, Egypt and others will be struggling to cope.

The GCC carriers need to look at their manpower requirements for the long term and figure out how they will face the challenge of ensuring a steady flow of well trained and capable workforce. Certainly the training  requirements will somewhat vary for the newer generation B787 and A350. There is a real need for an innovative approach in manpower supply and the airlines should look beyond their national training schemes offered to their citizens to start including expatriates who have been residing for generations in the country or even sponsoring people beyond their borders.

The availability of well trained and efficiently capable engineers, technicians and pilots, is what will make or break an airline and to a certain extent the aviation industry in MENA and globally.

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