Not Enough Mechanics

Baby boomer retirements leave aviation shorthanded just as the global fleet is expanding

This article first appeared in Forbes and is based on information that also appeared on BRINK.

A shortage of aviation mechanics within the next decade threatens the projected expansion and modernization of the global airline fleet. Based on Oliver Wyman projections, the gap between the supply of mechanics and demand for them should develop in the United States by 2022 and reach a peak of 9 percent by 2027. 

While there are plenty of millennials to fill the void, so far they are choosing other careers

The problem may emerge sooner in Asia where a bulk of the growth in the aircraft fleet is slated to take place. The increase in the number of planes, combined with a shortage of mechanics, may force them to maintain additional spare planes to avoid cancellations and late departures resulting from maintenance delays.

The shortage is, in part, a consequence of an aging global population. Between now and 2027, a record number of maintenance technicians will be eligible to retire as more baby boomers reach their 60s. For example, in the US, the median age of aviation mechanics is 51 years old, nine years older than the median age of the broader US workforce as calculated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


About authors

Brian Prentice and Derek Costanza are Dallas-based partners and John Smiley is an Atlanta-based senior manager in Oliver Wyman's Transportation practice.

Not Enough Mechanics