The advent of new-generation aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, bring with it new maintenance challenges, but they should yield lower maintenance demands. At least that is the calculation Virgin Atlantic is already making.
The airline’s director of engineering, Phil Maher, says the airline is betting it will need to grow its maintenance capacity around 21% as its fleet growths. That’s a relatively big number, but less than the 28% in fleet growth the airline projects.
Still, for Virgin Atlantic, the growth means it may have to expand its apprentice scheme from 2014 onward, Maher says. Virgin Atlantic outsources most of its maintenance and itself focuses mainly on line maintenance and A-Checks, so its overall personnel demand is not huge – it now has 400-450 maintenance technicians on payroll.
While Maher sees personnel challenges, he is less bleak than others, noting that entry level salaries are still competitive for aerospace technicians compared to other fields.