Aviation staff shortages – shoring up quality and safety
This summer looks to be the busiest travel season the aviation industry has seen since the pandemic. Unfortunately, it looks like, once again, staff shortages will cause turmoil for travellers; the US Federal Aviation Administration have said that they anticipate a 45% increase in flight delays at East Coast airports in the summer of 2023 . It promises scenes reminiscent of 2022, which saw the highest percentage of delayed flights  and the highest percentage of cancelled flights in the US in seven years. In the UK, a third of all flights were delayed  in 2022 and only 63% of flights departed or arrived in the UK within 15 minutes of their scheduled time.
Staff shortages are taking their toll
A primary cause of these continual delays in the lack of appropriate staffing across airlines and airports. The aviation industry lost 2.3 million jobs globally during the pandemic,  with ground-handling and security hardest hit. The industry is yet to recover from this impact and, with demand growing, the seams holding air travel together are stretched.
While some staff have since returned to the industry as travel restrictions began to ease, others have not. Many have found work in other sectors, some would have retired, and others may have been put off by their turbulent experience during the pandemic deciding to turn their back on the industry altogether.
There’s also issues in recruiting new staff into the industry. New workers are drawn to other less unpredictable sectors, where the pay package might be more attractive in industries that weren’t as badly set back by the pandemic.
In the UK, Brexit is also playing a significant role on staffing shortages. Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, told the Independent  “We have had to turn down a huge number of EU nationals because of Brexit. Pre-pandemic we would have turned down 2-2.5 per cent because of nationality issues, now it’s 35-40 per cent.”
Shortages across departments
The staffing shortages are not just falling in one particular area but are generally found across the board within aviation.
Maintenance and ground crew shortage - This is now having a significant impact as air travel demand has sharply increased, and planes are increasingly being brought out of storage to return to service.
Pilot shortage - There is also a concerning, more long-term shortage of pilots. European aviation regulators have ruled out an industry push to allow planes to fly with only one pilot by 2030 , a sign of alternative solutions being looked at to combat staffing challenges.
Aviation safety among staffing shortages
What cannot be compromised in aviation, even with the pressures that come with staffing shortages, is safety and quality. A robust digital quality management system (QMS), will go a very long way in helping you plug the gaps that emerge when your down on team members, by streamlining your processes, increasing collaboration, and improving communication. It will also allow you to more easily onboard and train new members of staff. Here’s how:
Firmly entrenched safety culture
Having a QMS with an easy-to-use mobile reporting function means that you will see an increase in safety reports. The little things don’t get ignored and therefore don’t build into bigger issues down the line. When you’re short on staff, if reporting minor incidents or near-misses becomes a time-consuming chore, then reports are not going to be completed. So making this process pain-free is going to prevent accidents from happening in the long-term.
Adopting an effective QMS ensure that, as an organization, you become far more data-driven. Capturing information at every stage of your processes means that you can accurately form a picture of trends. This will prevent issues recurring and give you strong insight into performance, helping you make improvements and drive-down costs.
An effective QMS will be your one-stop shop for your processes. Whether it be submitting incident reports, distributing your new or updated policies, organizing and tracking training and much more. Ultimately you’re creating consistency and clarity across your organization that will be vital when you’re masking over shortages within your workforce.
Training new recruits
If you’re already short-staffed, what you absolutely don’t want is difficultly onboarding new employees or training those returning to the industry. A QMS makes it simple to build a bespoke CPD schedule for your new and existing staff, push prompts and reminders to users, and gives you access to a living library of your organizations completed and scheduled training sessions.
This means that you can be confident that you’re bringing employees that can immediately be effective in their roles, especially within the cohesive and efficient systems previously created with your QMS.
Learn more about the challenges the aviation industry is facing
Discover some of the challenges the aviation industry is facing in addressing the gender imbalance amid staff shortages, in specific roles including pilots, and in general positions of leadership, in this insightful webinar "Women in aviation and aerospace – diversity and business competitiveness."Watch on-demand
 - The FAA is warning flyers of a 45% increase in flight delays this summer in NYC and DC as it deals with staff shortage (yahoo.com)
 - Travel Chaos: How Summer Travel in 2022 Became a Nightmare (businessinsider.com)
 - Third of flights delayed in 2022 - BBC News
 - Europe's airports struggle with mass staff shortages as travel sector faces 'summer of discontent' | Euronews
 Brexit to blame for airline staff shortages, says easyJet boss | The Independent
 European Aviation Regulators Shut Down Proposal to Fly With Just One Pilot (skift.com)