Weighing Solutions for Industry’s Helicopter Pilot and Tech Shortage

By Amy Kluber | November 20, 2018
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Rear view of a male pilot flying a helicopter on sunny day.

File photo

Promoting the helicopter industry to the next generation, enhancing employee benefits and apprenticeship programs are possible solutions to an anticipated shortage of helicopter pilots and maintenance technicians, according to Helicopter Association International (HAI).

An HAI-commissioned study conducted by the University of North Dakota released in March projects a shortage of 7,469 helicopter pilots in the U.S. between now and 2036. The study also projected a shortage of 40,613 maintenance technicians in that time frame.


These solutions were released in response to an industry meeting the association held at HAI’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia on Sept. 26, when participants identified the top three major challenges to expected workforce demand. Those challenges included the lack of available pilots and technicians, retaining qualified personnel, and affordability and accessibility of education.

To promote the rotorcraft industry to the next generation, t industry publications and associations, suppliers, schools, the government, parent-teacher associations and retired military personnel, must reach out and recruit future pilots and maintainters.

Responsibility for enhancing employee benefits falls to employers, airlines and human resources officers who anticipate demand will outstrip the available workforce in coming years. Because student loan repayment is a identified hurdle for prospective pilots, HAI will host on its website a student loan repayment template citing examples and case studies of what other companies and industries have done successfully.

Industry trade associations, flight schools and even TV personalities can help implement apprenticeship programs, HAI found.

The final step to HAI's workforce plan is to identify "critical audiences to advance the solutions and developing steps and activities to implement the solutions," according to an HAI statement.

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