With new grant, Center for Aviation Studies to tackle airport industry workforce challenges

Posted: June 17, 2019

The global aviation industry will soon face a workforce shortage.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, more than 750,000 aviation professionals, including pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, and airport managers, will be needed to meet the needs of the industry by 2036.

With new funding sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), The Ohio State University Center for Aviation Studies will continue to address this challenge.

A $300,000 grant from the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program will fund work on enhancing academic programs to prepare future airport industry professionals. The multi-disciplinary team of academia and industry is led by McConnell Chair of Aviation Seth Young, and includes experts from ICF Inc., Pavlik & Associates, Quadrex Aviation, DPrather Aviation Solutions, and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Ohio State aviation students
Prof. Seth Young teaching aviation students at The Ohio State University Airport
As the national air transportation system expands, so does the need for trained airport and aviation professionals. In recent years, the industry has made significant advancements in operations, engineering and design, safety, security, and technology implementation. However, recruiting talent that has been educated in these areas has become a challenge for the thousands of commercial service and general aviation airports around the world. A recent International Air Transport Association survey of aviation human resources professionals revealed that only 28% believe current training is very effective. This new research project will develop published guidance to airports and the academic community for creating and enhancing curricula that best meets the current and future needs of the industry.

“Our history at Ohio State in developing aviation curricula combined with the operation of our own airport makes us an ideal partner to prepare valuable insight to industry and fellow institutions,” Young explained. He added that both staff at The Ohio State University Airport and students in the Center for Aviation Studies will participate in the research.

The 15-month project, expected to be completed in fall 2020, complements other efforts at Ohio State to address the evolving needs of the aviation workforce. Currently, more than 200 students are pursuing an aviation or air transportation degree. In 2015, the Center for Aviation Studies hosted aviation industry and academic leaders for a national summit focused on short- and long-term implications of professional pilot staffing in the U.S. In 2014, Ohio State led the Career Eagles Aviation Initiative to engage and encourage children to pursue careers in aviation through a variety of programs, scholarships and hands-on experiences.

The Transportation Research Board is one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Its Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) is an industry-driven, applied research program that develops practical solutions to problems faced by airport operators. ACRP has produced more than 400 practical resources and tools for airport practitioners and makes them available for free.

Category: Research