Worldwide shortage of pilots, technicians forecast

PARIS — While rain drenched attendees at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday, inside a conference center officials said the world will need a downpour of pilots and technicians to meet a growing demand for commercial airplanes over the next 20 years.

The need will be staggering, Boeing Flight Services vice president Sherry Carbary said on the third day of air show held at Le Bourget.

The company predicts demand for 460,000 new commercial airline pilots and 650,000 commercial airline maintenance technicians over the next 20 years.

That's 23,000 pilots and 32,500 technicians a year needed to fly and maintain a fleet that's expected to grow to 40,000 planes in the next two decades and to replace the wave of people who will be retiring.

"Those are significant numbers," Carbary said

The largest demand — about 40 percent — will come from the Asia-Pacific region, the forecast predicts.

North America will need 82,800 pilots and 134,800 technicians during that time.

The industry must invest, evolve and adapt to support that growth by providing the tools, training and work environment required, Carbary said.

It also means working with industry to transform the air traffic management system and pioneer digital delivery of the navigation and in-flight data information pilots need, she said.

Spirit part of Boeing's tanker-supplier team

Spirit AeroSystems was part of the team of major suppliers selected to supply the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker, Boeing announced.

Spirit will supply the forward fuselage section, strut and nacelle components, including the inlet, fan cowl and core cowl, and the fixed fan duct from its Wichita site. Spirit's plant in Prestwick, Scotland, will supply the fixed leading edge.

Spirit AeroSystems said in a statement that Boeing's announcement is good for the country, Spirit, Kansas and the Wichita economy.

"Spirit is proud to be part of the Boeing tanker supply team," the statement said.

The U.S. Air Force selected Boeing over EADS as the winner of a contract to replace 179 Eisenhower-era KC-135 aerial refueling tankers.

Boeing is to deliver 18 combat-ready tankers in 78 months.

The tanker team will include more than 800 suppliers in more than 40 states.

Other suppliers include Cobham, DRS Laurel Technologies, Eaton Aerospace, GE Aviation Systems, Goodrich, Honeywell, Moog, Northrop Grumman, Parker Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, Triumph Group and Woodward.

Boeing gives media a tour of the Dreamliner

Media members boarded a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for a closer look Wednesday.

The aircraft was the first 787 Boeing built. The plane is in test flight and filled with test flight monitoring equipment and a few rows of leather passenger seating.

Chief test pilot and Wichita State University graduate Mike Carriker was on board along with other crew members and Boeing staff.

Carriker said there is only one set of flights left to do for government certification.

The plane must yet complete function and reliability testing to demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that Boeing has a reliable product.

And it must finish testing to prove it can fly safely for long distances over water. Airplane No. 9 will be the one to demonstrate that capability, Carriker said. It will fly 400 hours for the testing.

Carriker said he hopes Airplane No. 1 will end up at the National Air and Space Museum in Seattle. The plane won't be sold to a customer.

There's been a number of changes made since it was built.

"This is a very heavy airplane," Carriker said. "We've found out ways to make it lighter."

A380 that clipped structure returns

An Airbus A380 double-decker aircraft that clipped a structure during ground maneuvers this week is back at the air show. The plane flew in Wednesday morning, the company said.

Airbus announces numerous orders

Airbus announced a number of sales on Wednesday, including the firming up of what it called a historic order from IndiGo, India's largest low-cost carrier. The airline signed a memo of understanding in January for 150 A320neo jetliners and 30 A320 planes.

Republic Airways Holdings, the parent company of Frontier Airlines, signed a memo of understanding for 80 aircraft, including 40 A320neos and 40 A319neos. In doing so, the airline became the launch customer for the A319neo. ALAFCO, an aviation lease and finance company based in Kuwait, signed an agreement for 30 A320neo aircraft. Latin America's LAN Airline finalized an order for 20 A320neo aircraft.

UTair Aviation in Russia has agreed to buy 40 Boeing 737NG airliners from Boeing, the companies announced. The agreement is for seven 737-900ER and 33 737-800 aircraft to add to its fleet of 30 Boeing planes. It must yet be finalized.