The 2023 Boeing Technician Outlook: A Closer Look

Boeing recently released its latest Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), which projects commercial jet aircraft demand out over the next 20 years. Of even greater interest to the aviation maintenance world is the annual personnel demand that uses the CMO numbers to forecast the projected need for technicians as well as pilots and cabin crew. 

The major takeaway from the 2023-2042 technician outlook comes as no surprise: the demand for qualified maintenance personnel is not easing anytime soon. Boeing projects a need for 690,000 maintenance technicians to support commercial carriers over the next two decades. That figure is a 12% increase over last year's forecast
Boeing CMO

Some of the jump is easily explained by this year's return of Russia and other countries affected by sanctions related to the war in Ukraine. Last year's forecast did not include them. This year, they are back in the "Eurasia" geographic sector, which Boeing projects will need 156,000 technicians. Last year, the comparable "Europe" category had a projected need of 120,000.

Elsewhere, Boeing boosted projected needs for every other geographic sector except for one: North America. Here at home, Boeing projects a need for 125,000 technicians over the next 20 years. Last year's comparable figure was 134,000.

Several factors help explain the shift. North America's fleet is projected to have the slowest growth over the forecast period, at 1.8% annually. Along the way, carriers are expected to renew their fleets, welcoming more efficient, less maintenance-hungry models. 

Not only will these new aircraft have the so-called "maintenance honeymoons" that mean little scheduled work over the first 5-10 years in service, but they will need less labor hours throughout their service lives, slightly easing commercial aviation technician-demand pressure.

Airlines in the region also continue to up-gauge their fleets aggressively, preferring aircraft with more seats. This will drive an increase in passenger traffic growth without a lock-step rise in fleet sizes or individual aircraft flights--both of which are key drivers for maintenance demand.

Does this mean demand for new mechanics is waning here at home? Not at all. Boeing's forecast covers only commercial aviation--and jet operations at that. Absent are any projections for business aviation, civil helicopter support and arguably the most intriguing and unpredictable civil segment--the emerging world of advanced air mobility.