Maintenance efficiencies on the Boeing 737 Max mean that Asia will require 5% less technical personnel over the next 20 years, Boeing estimates.
The manufacturer forecasts that Asia will require 242,000 additional aircraft mechanics and engineers through 2037, with roughly half that number for China, 76,000 for Southeast Asia and 43,000 for South Asia.
“Overall, maintenance hours required over the life of the airplane [737 Max] will be reduced,” said Boeing.
Given the spread of 737 Max orders around the world, one would expect Boeing’s lowered technician demand forecast to apply to the rest of the world. Airbus has also promised maintenance efficiencies on the A320neo, and although Boeing doesn’t say if it factored this in, one would expect it did given the importance of all narrowbodies to the maintenance market.
If Boeing is right, then maintenance providers will have to get used to lower volumes of work from each new-generation narrowbody. The good news, however, is that maintenance demand is increasing in absolute terms. Furthermore, extended overhaul intervals may mean that each maintenance event becomes more expensive, potentially offsetting a decrease in per-aircraft maintenance hours.
Two years ago, Boeing said the region would need 268,000 maintenance personnel over the subsequent 20 years, which it based on demand and backlogs at the time.
Given that the Max was selling well at the time in Asia, the recent downward revision might seem curious, although Boeing says it is due to “advances in product development.” These could be process efficiencies or perhaps improvements in health monitoring systems and data analysis that allow more predictive and preventive maintenance.
Also, the new forecast brings Boeing’s outlook for Asia closer to that of Airbus.