OMW: Jobs & recruitment in aviation – tell me more


Last week’s CJI One Minute Week (OMW) canvassed industry views about the challenges of recruiting aviation industry professionals. Business aviation alone will need to hire an additional 32,000 pilots and 74,000 maintenance technicians by 2032, according to CAE’s recent Aviation Talent Forecast. Commercial aviation will need to recruit an astonishing 1.18m staff. Should aviation worry about meeting the recruitment challenge? Here we report the comments in full of CAE, Elevate Aviation Group, Brian Foley Associates, Delta Air Lines and United Air Lines.


Roger Marszalek, director, Market Strategy and Product Marketing, Civil Aviation, CAE

CJI: How worried are you about the shortfall in aviation recruitment?

Roger Marszalek (RM): The industry has a big challenge ahead to meet the demand for aviation personnel. To meet the demand, industry stakeholders will have to work together, everyone from operators and regulators to training providers and educational institutions to attract, train, and retain talent.

The industry must embrace new solutions, technology and partners, including those from outside the aviation industry. For example, we must find ways to attract digital natives who spend most of their time browsing and interacting online to reach and appeal to Generation Z and open their minds to the possibilities and benefits of a career in aviation.

CJI: What’s more concerning the lack of pilots, technicians or cabin crew?

RM: Too few of either of the groups is a challenge, since pilots, technicians and cabin crew play an essential regulatory role in the safe operation of the air transport system. There are even other professions (i.e., ATC workers, OCC employees, instructors) that are not captured in our report that play a critical role in the air travel ecosystem.

Our forecast showed that each group presents a unique challenge for recruitment:

  • Pilot demand is always unique due to its longer training pathway.
  • Cabin crew demand shows the highest number of personnel needed.
  • Aircraft maintenance technician demand shows the highest rate of personnel retiring.

CJI: What remedies are you deploying to remedy the challenge?


  • CAE has partnered with several airlines around the world, including easyJet, Jazz and Spirit, to provide ab-initio training and job opportunities upon successful completion of training.
  • We champion initiatives like the CAE Women in Flight program to encourage more women to become pilots, working with various airlines, including easyJet and Air Canada, to provide various scholarship for their training.
  • CAE continually invests in the development of high-tech solutions to make training more efficient while enhancing safety. We have deployed online learning tools, improved scheduling, and curriculums, and built a worldwide network of training centres to make the training process more efficient and effective.
  • Introduction of Competency Based Training and Assessment to ensure pilots are “mission ready”.
  • Products like CAE Rise and CAE Pelesys to improve training management and efficiency.
  • CAE Parc Aviation: resourcing services help airlines and operators find the talent they need to allow them to respond to market opportunities quickly.
  • Expanding our global footprint to meet demand:

New business aviation training centres:

  • CAE Las Vegas (inaugurated in March 2023)
  • CAE Savannah (scheduled to begin operation in late 2023)
  • CAE Vienna (Scheduled to open in 2024)

New commercial aviation training centres:

CAE Athens (partnership with AEGEAN, set to open in 2024)

CAE Sydney (partnership with Qantas, set to open in 2024)

  • CAE’s global civil aviation training network includes:
  • 300+ full flight simulators
  • 170+ aircraft
  • 50+ training locations

CJI: To what extent do commercial airlines see bizav as a recruitment pool?

RM: Commercial pilot demand is up due to the strong recovery in travel post-covid and significant airline expansions planned over the next decade. There are more commercial aircraft in service (31k), and the fleet is expected to grow significantly (39% increase over ten years). The business jet fleet is smaller (22k) and is growing at a slower rate (18% increase over ten years). Regional airlines have parked aircraft due to lack of crew to fly them. Several airline executives have commented on the need for more pilots. Based on these market dynamics, commercial airlines will explore any possible avenue to recruit aviation talent.  


Jeannie Thorne, vice president, Human Resources, Elevate 

CJI: How worried are you about the shortfall in aviation recruitment?

Jeannie Thorne (JT): While recruitment of talent is always a challenge in any industry, Elevate Aviation Group has enjoyed a great deal of success of late.  As such, we have the opportunity to reinvest in our team members, offering opportunities for advancement and career development while also enjoying the stability of a company founded over 20 years ago.  Of late, we are finding that our unique client-centric focus offers a compelling reason to join our team.

CJI: What’s more concerning the lack of pilots or technicians?

JT: As the catchphrase goes, it really does take a village.  Ours is a service-centric industry, where safety and reliability are equally vital to success.  Both pilots and technicians are areas to focus on, as are all of the professional disciplines necessary to deliver a truly world class experience

CJI: To what extent do commercial airlines see bizav as a recruitment pool?
JT: Elevate Aviation is a unique company, deeply experienced in both transport category transportation and executive jet solutions.  Many of our team, including our holding company’s President Randy McKinney, started their careers at commercial airlines.  The management experience and sophistication of these executives is truly extraordinary.  I suppose we see the commercial airline industry as a recruitment pool for executive aviation as much as the other way around.


Brian Foley, founder, Brian Foley Associates

Perhaps the pilot shortage has been discussed for so long in our industry that it has just become a given that it exists, even if it doesn’t.    

There hasn’t been a lot of pilot job hopping, suggesting there’s not unlimited opportunities due to some shortage.   In speaking to flight departments I have not heard of a systemic lack of candidates.  More recently with some of the mega-fleet charter operators experiencing financial challenges, the potential pool has grown even larger

If there’s any pilot constraint it lies with training capacity which is indeed a real issue.   I’ve heard that some classes require the actual name of the pilot for a reservation, and that making pilot substitutions or reserving an open slot cannot be made.  This makes it difficult for a company when onboarding a new pilot who needs recurrent or a type training, as the wait can be lengthy before they can complete the course and start working.  

On the technician side, if a firm is willing to pay for talent then they aren’t as scarce as we’ve been led to believe.  Hourly employees are willing to go across the street for a relatively modest pay increase, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to pay them a competitive wage. 


Delta Air Lines

Spokesman: At Delta we are constantly working to ensure that our staffing levels are calibrated to properly support the needs of our safe, reliable operations.

Pilot hiring at Delta remains robust, at a rate of about 200 pilots per month, and is expected to continue for the coming months. We expect to hire more than 2,000 pilots in 2023 to support future growth.

Through our skills-first approach to hiring, and through initiatives such as our Propel Pilot Career Path Program, we are creating new, equitable pathways for qualified pilot candidates and aspiring pilots to join our team at Delta. Since its inception in 2018, more than 100 Propel participants have graduated and are now flying Delta customers with another 700 currently in the program.

In addition to our community, collegiate and company Propel pathways, we now offer a flight academy path with partial funding from Delta. This broad funnel approach will help sustain a steady pipeline of talented pilots for years to come.

Delta plans to hire between 4,000 to 6,000 additional flight attendants in 2023 to support Delta’s continued growth and bolster their work-life balance.

Delta’s longstanding and strong reputation as a great place to work continues to attract talent across our business, including for aviation maintenance technicians. To date in 2023, we’ve hired more than 700.

In recent years, Delta has established partnerships with more than 50 FAA-certified aviation maintenance training institutions around the US. We have also bolstered our strategic recruitment of transitioning military personnel, veterans and their families along with initiatives to cultivate new technician talent in collaboration with our regional partners and to upskill members of Delta’s existing workforce.


United Airlines


Hiring at United

  • At United, we’re hiring across all major metro areas – coast-to-coast at our seven major domestic hubs – Newark, D.C., Chicago, Denver, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles – and many cities including Orlando, Boston, Colorado Springs to name a few.
  • We’re hiring across a broad range of positions: we need pilots, technicians, flight attendants and agents but we also need accountants, technologists, lawyers, finance experts, cyber experts and network planners to run our business.
  • To date, we’ve hired more than 10,000 people and are on track to bring on more than 15,000 people by the end of the year. Last year (2022), we hired 15,000 people.


  • Last year we added more than 2,400 pilots – that was our highest pilot hiring year ever – 85% more than 2021.
  • This year we’ll add about that same number of pilots. In fact, we already hired more than 1,400 pilots and are well on track to add 10,000 pilots this decade.

Tech Ops (maintenance technicians)

  • Since January, we’ve hired over 1,550 maintenance technicians. In the first five months of the year, we’ve hired nearly as many technicians as we did last year – and are confident we will meet our goal of hiring 2,500 maintenance technicians this year alone.
  • To support our ambitious growth plan, we need to hire more than 7,000 maintenance technicians by 2026.

Flight Attendants

  • We’ve received more than 20,000 applications for the 4,000 flight attendant roles we need to fill this year. That brings our Year-to-Date total to over 32,000, exceeding the total number of applications we received last year alone.

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