Celebrating the Workforce Behind Aviation 

International Labour Day (or Workers’ Day), observed at the beginning of May, is an opportunity to recognise the millions of workers worldwide. 

In aviation, it’s the time to celebrate the dedication, skill, and resilience of the industry’s diverse workforce, including pilots, cabin crews, MRO teams, ground staff, air traffic controllers, customer service teams – and everyone else involved. 

It’s the time to reflect on their contributions to connecting the world, ensuring safety, and driving technological advancements.

This article aims to recognise the value each worker brings and addresses current challenges and future prospects. 

Acknowledging the Roles of Aviation Professionals 

To start with, let’s have a brief shout out to several key roles in the industry. 


Where would we be without pilots? These highly skilled individuals helped move us beyond the Victorian era, paving the way for a more interconnected world in terms of global commerce, business collaboration, and of course, leisure travel. 

Unfortunately, the industry is facing a shortage of pilots, and major airlines are now launching campaigns to attract new talent as well as encourage more women to join the profession. 

For example, easyJet is now looking for 200 pilots this spring through their Generation easyJet Pilot Training Programme, while British Airways has launched the Speedbird Self-Sponsored Pathway, where prospective pilots receive a conditional offer of employment after passing selection – before they even begin training. 

Programmes like these are a promising step towards securing the future of aviation. The BA programme in particular brings more certainty surrounding next steps for pilots-to-be. 

Cabin Crews

Cabin crew members’ responsibilities extend beyond service, encompassing first aid, emergency evacuation procedures, and security measures. Their ability to manage diverse passenger needs while ensuring a pleasant flying experience is a testament to the industry’s customer service ethos.

Ground Handling Staff: The Heroes Behind the Scenes

Ground handling staff are the unsung heroes of airport operations, handling everything from baggage and aircraft servicing to security. Their efficient coordination ensures smooth check-ins, timely departures, and the safe handling of millions of pieces of luggage daily. Their contribution is vital for the overall passenger experience and for operational efficiency. 

MRO Teams: Safeguarding the Skies

MRO is at the heart of aviation safety, the workforce consisting of skilled engineers, technicians, and support staff. These professionals are responsible for the rigorous maintenance tasks that ensure every aircraft is airworthy and compliant with strict regulatory standards. Their work is critical to preventing technical failures and ensuring passenger safety, so they carry a great deal responsibility on their shoulders.  

Air Traffic Controllers

Air traffic controllers’ expertise in managing flight paths, coordinating take-offs and landings, and responding to any airspace challenges is vital to preventing collisions and ensuring efficient traffic flow. The high-stakes nature of their work requires precision, quick decision-making, and clear communication.

As well as these roles, we must celebrate the many other positions within the industry, from management to analysts to administrative support. Without their collective effort, coordinating the activities above would be impossible. 

The Workforce Behind Innovation

New innovations continue to emerge in the sector. From engineers developing sustainable fuel alternatives to IT specialists implementing next-generation software, the push towards a greener and more efficient future is propelled by the industry’s human capital. We must recognise their invaluable contributions which are behind every breakthrough. 

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

The sector has shown remarkable resilience in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees had to adapt to various new safety protocols while guiding passengers through these changes, and many took on additional tasks to cover for furloughed colleagues. 

Mental Health Challenges

Given how hard hit the industry was, it’s not surprising that the situation took its toll on workers’ mental health. There was always the looming threat of potential job loss, along with the stress of a greater workload and, for those that weren’t required on-site, the stress of isolation.  

Employees from all types of teams were affected, and there is research showing that pilots had a particularly hard time. Some studies report that 66% of pilots reported worsened mental health as a result of the pandemic. 

In addition, a survey of over 2,000 safety-critical aviation workers (including pilots, cabin crews, air traffic control professionals, and engineers) revealed increases in anxiety and depression. 

To be precise, 36% reported mild anxiety, 13% moderate, and 11% severe, while 18% met the criteria for moderate depression, with 7% and 5% moderately severe or severe, respectively. In addition, 78% of respondents were unwilling to disclose mental health issues to their employers, suggesting a change in culture was needed. 

Aside from the difficult experiences for the individuals affected, excessive levels of stress and anxiety can be dangerous, affecting fatigue and alertness in safety-critical situations. 

These challenges inspired change, with the conversation around mental health taking on greater importance. Initiatives aimed at reducing stress, addressing burnout, and promoting work-life balance are becoming increasingly common. 

We must admire all the aviation workers that persevered through the pandemic despite its challenges. 

Current Challenges Facing the Aviation Workforce

Labour Shortages

It’s not just pilots that the industry is in lack of. There’s a shortage of various roles, including maintenance technicians, which highlights the need for more efficient processes which help staff achieve more within their scheduled hours. 


With the rapid pace of technological advancements, the importance of continuous learning and development has never been more critical. One example is the use of virtual reality simulators for training purposes, which has proven to be highly effective. Organisations are increasingly investing in such innovations, leading to better employee performance and engagement, and improving their ability to attract Gen Z workers. 

Training relating to digitalisation in general continues to be necessary, since the approach vastly improves efficiency. For example, let’s consider how technology can improve supply chain operations in light of global supply chain disruptions. 

These disruptions have partly been due to the post-pandemic surge in air travel and labour shortages in manufacturing. There has been greater demand for new aircraft and parts, which affects MRO operations in particular, with longer lead times for parts acquisitions. Using digital platforms to manage logistics, inventory and other related processes mitigates the likelihood and consequences of delays. 

Adapting to Sustainability Regulations

Aviation workers are increasingly required to adapt to sustainability regulations as the industry seeks to reduce its environmental impact. This shift necessitates a broad range of adaptations across various roles within the sector.

It also gives us the opportunity to recognise the crucial work of another role – sustainability officers. Some organisations have recruited these specialists to oversee the overall environmental performance of their operations. Their responsibilities include setting sustainability goals, coordinating with different departments to ensure these objectives are met, and reporting on progress. 

Thanks to these workers, we can be hopeful about minimising climate change within the sector. 

The Future Aviation Workforce 

As the industry evolves, so too does its workforce needs. Along with an increasing demand for sustainability officers, what new roles might we see more of in the near future? Here are a few: 

  • Drone pilots and maintenance specialists: With drones becoming integral for maintenance and surveillance (among other tasks), there will be a higher demand for skilled operators and technicians that can maintain them. 
  • Robotics specialists: Robotics is another growing area when it comes to maintenance. The need for specialists that operate and maintain robotic components will therefore grow. 
  • AI Specialists and Data Analysts: The digital transformation of air travel is increasing the need for AI specialists that can strategically introduce AI into operations, as well as data analysts who can interpret complex datasets collected from various sources for various purposes. 
  • Cybersecurity specialists: Given the increasing reliance on digital technologies, there is growing demand for cybersecurity professionals across many sectors. In aviation, they will play a key role in preventing various threats, not only pertaining to data protection but the safety of cyber-physical systems as well. 
  • Urban air mobility specialists: With the rise of urban air mobility solutions including drones, there will be a need for roles focused on coordinating these services within urban environments, managing air traffic, and ensuring compliance.
  • New engineering skills: New types of engineering skills will be required when it comes to designing sustainable aircraft and working with new materials such as composites and titanium alloys. Engineers will also need to become more familiar with complex system integrations as aircraft become more connected.  


The aviation industry owes its success and reputation to its diverse and skilled workforce. From pilots and MRO professionals ensuring safety to cabin crews enhancing passenger experience, and ground staff and aircraft controllers maintaining operational flow, each member plays an indispensable role. 

It’s important to recognise the collective effort of every professional in the sector – including the workforce of the future – whose work behind the scenes and at the forefront makes air travel possible and safe for millions worldwide.

At OASES, we provide a suite of leading solutions that support many different roles in aviation maintenance. For more information or to request a demo, contact us today. 

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