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India May Need 31,000 Pilots Over Next 20 Years; Here's Why

The increased number of pilots and mechanics will be required to deal with the number of aircraft to be brought to India following orders from different airlines, including Air India.

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Boeing, a US aircraft manufacturer, has stated India may need 31,000 pilots and about 26,000 mechanics over the course of the next 20 years due to an increasing order backlog for aircraft original equipment manufacturers. Salil Gupte, president of Boeing India, said the South Asian area is anticipated to continue being the fastest-growing market globally over the coming years while speaking on the sidelines of a CII event here. According to him, the government's brave decision to privatise Air India and allow Tata Group to acquire the airlines will revolutionise the Indian aerospace sector.

"India is going to need over 31,000 pilots and 26,000 mechanics over the next 20 years to take care of the aircraft coming in. This is as important a part of the Indian growth story as the aircraft (orders)," Gupte told reporters. He said considering India's air traffic growth, a lot of focus has to be on making infrastructure robust, both hard infrastructure, including airports, and critical infrastructure, including pilots, among others. Last month, Tata Group-owned Air India announced placing orders for 470 planes with both Boeing and European aviation major Airbus. 

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Air India's mega aircraft deal with Boeing, Gupte said, is a massive deal for India as a nation and added that India is getting a representation on the global stage. Last September, Boeing projected India's air traffic growth at around 7 percent through 2040.

He also said that after coming out of the pandemic, the recovery in air travel demand had stunned the world, and Boeing does not see any impact of the financial crisis on air travel growth.

It is "too early to know what the consequences of the bank situation of the US and Europe and others are going to be. At this stage, we see no slowdown in demand for aviation," Gupte added.

There is a huge market for narrow-body aircraft for Boeing in India, he said, and added that "(as much as) 90 percent of the market over the next 20 years is going to be a narrow body market, and we expect we will be successful in competing for those every single campaign (aircraft order)."

Gupte also emphasized that Boeing has a leadership position in the vast-body (twin-aisle) aircraft segment globally, and it will remain so in all the markets, including India. He stated that India will become more than a hub for aviation because of its sheer size and scale as the country's economy grows.

"India is the gateway like China, and once it will grow to be (in) the top four economies of the world, it will be more than a hub," according to him. The government is working to create an aviation hub in India, and various steps, including airlines inducting wide-body aircraft and increasing their fleet size, are being taken, Union minister V K Singh informed Parliament last month.

With PTI Inputs