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Students Encouraged to Become Aviation Professionals

As the Transportation Security Agency tracks an increasing number of passengers going through airport security checkpoints each day and commercial air carriers continue to add flights to their schedules, one thing is clear: the demand for pilots, aviation maintainers and cabin crewmembers will return.

While the global pandemic has rocked the aviation industry, just as 9/11 did nearly 20 years ago, people like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University President P. Barry Butler write that qualified aviation professionals will be needed once again.   

“The 2020 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook, updated in October, projects that 763,000 new civil aviation pilots and 739,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain the global fleet of aircraft over the next 20 years,” Butler wrote in an Op-Ed for Aviation Week.

In addition, Butler said, “some equipment manufacturers for the U.S. Defense Department never saw a reduction in the need for talent … the military continues to need not only pilots but aviation leaders. And even grounded aircraft require regular care by aviation maintenance technicians.” 

The aviation industry has hit the “pause button” not the “stop button.”  To prepare for the release of the pause button, Butler outlines five steps for strengthening flight-training safety to ensure that today’s flight students are ready to serve in a post-pandemic world: 

  • Collaborate. Flight-training institutions must band together during times of crisis.  As an example, Embry-Riddle’s Dr. Kenneth Byrnes has formed a national consortium of university flight programs that have been looking at mask etiquette, sanitization standards and more.
  • Checklists. These well-known aspects of aviation safety are more important now than ever, as aviators must add new procedures related to issues that include appropriate personal protective equipment and hangar sanitization.
  • Self-Reporting. Flight students must be encouraged to self-report errors without fear of disciplinary action.
  • Testing and Data. Rapid corrections amid a global pandemic are critical, thus the need for COVID-19 testing and data.
  • Keep Learning. Flight-training programs facing a pandemic or other crisis must “remain open to change, adopt good ideas early and continue to learn, adjust and iterate.” 

Butler believes this current class of freshmen “will be in a strong position to compete for jobs after they graduate and that career-path jobs will be available to them.” 

He said, “The demand for pilots and aviation maintenance professionals may even be heightened, given early retirements and openings that resulted when furloughed personnel moved into government, business and general aviation amid the pandemic.”