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Software, Population Analytics, and Personnel Needs for Aerospace Project Planning...Planes Need Pilots!

Data analytics software is essential for making informed site selection decisions when planning projects tied to defense, aerospace or space. Companies involved in such industries need to understand a wide range of information, including demographic data regarding personnel. It’s one thing to know that you’ve got a strong supply of talent for the project that you’re building now, but will that stream continue to flow?


The airline industry is one that is always thinking about the future, and developing campaigns to attract talent to keep it in the air. And we mean that literally: Take a look at this television commercial from United Airlines, encouraging viewers to pursue a career as a pilot.


Is it in United’s best interests to run this campaign nationwide? Maybe…but maybe not. Similar to planning for an actual airport, it’s always important to understand how needs differ, both nationwide and from market-to-market. So let’s look at our data and figure out where it makes sense for United to advertise to new pilots.  


You can also watch this exercise on our YouTube channel:  



In this case, let’s start at the local level in Texas. According to our data, about 19% of the pilots in the Dallas area are between the ages of 25 and 34. We start to see a concerning trend as we travel up in age. Around 22% are between ages 35 and 44, 24% are between 45 and 54, and 28% are between 55 and 64 years old.


These numbers suggest that, as the oldest demographic reaches retirement, there will be too few pilots to replace them, ultimately leading to 9% fewer pilots in the 55 to 64 age range 30 years from now. None of the trends suggest the shortage will be filled by an increase in younger pilots. Therefore, it makes sense for United to air its commercial to Dallas viewers.


The numbers for Houston tell a similar story. Pilots between the ages of 25 and 34 make up just 17% of those flying in that region.


One factor may make Houston an even better market for United’s commercial than Dallas, however: It operates out of 112 gates at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, nearly five-times those at Dallas Forth Worth.


Do these trends speak to Texas, or the United States, as a whole? Not at all. In fact, the trend is reversed near San Antonio, where 40% of pilots are in the 25 to 34 age range. Nationally, 30% of pilots are in this relatively young demographic, with the percentage diminishing as we look at older groups. This national trend reflects a healthy rate of replacement that an airline wants to see.


But if you, or United, are seeing trends like those in Dallas and Houston, it might be time to put out a snazzy ad like the one linked above.


Vista Site Selection doesn’t make many commercials, but we do analyze a lot of data. If you’re interested in learning more about how our software models and data analytics can help you choose a site for your defense, aerospace or space project, reach out and start a conversation.


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