With the technology for commercial space travel getting ever closer to becoming a reality, the aviation and aerospace industry must make some crucial decisions to plan and execute a complementary industry that will not be a hindrance to the other. As there is currently such a large demand for pilots and engineers for commercial airlines, how will the space industry affect that ever growing demand on the specialised skills of both pilots and engineers?
The dawn of a space race is upon us, geared to develop new spaceplanes designed to take tourists into space by highly ambitious Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) from international companies such as Virgin Galactic, EADS Astrium, Orbital ATK, SpaceX and many others. These manufacturers will continue to progress in this development until they reach the point of full line production of multiple aircraft. The necessity to sell this product will create a financial boom within the industry, as they will need to sell to either current operational airlines that will take the risk to fly to space or new airline companies that will be created by the next generation of entrepreneurs. These space airline companies will create a massive growth in jobs across the spectrum of disciplines, such as pilots, engineers, management, sales, finance and administration. How will this new job creation change the look of the current airline industry, as there is already a shortage of highly skilled pilots and engineers? Will the shortage of pilots be drained even more by the future demand for astronaut pilots, as the new frontier will attract the very best because of its exciting prospects?
This new industry will attract the very best in society and has governments around the world making plans to help boost their GDPs. Currently there are six government space agencies that have full launch capabilities; the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the European Space Agency (ESA), the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA), of which only RFSA , the CNSA and NASA are capable of human spaceflight as of 2016. The geopolitical changes due to Brexit, the recent news in the UK is that space ports are in the planning and development stage with the goal to have commercial space flights by 2020. There are also agreements of collaboration between ISRO and ESA, so it is inevitable that space travel will advance in our lifetime. This industry will create a new boom within the global economy, but will this be at the cost of the current airline / aviation industry?
Brookfield is currently working with a number of organisations to understand the complexity of the needs and delivery of having a dual aerospace and aviation industry working side by side to reach the human capital demands of both industries. Brookfield currently provides test pilots, pilots and engineers to the industry and recognises the current strain on the industry to find highly qualified people to fill the roles. We would like to encourage a thoughtful debate surrounding these issues, so that there is as an industry a comprehensive and cohesive approach to help bring up any problems that might stand in the way of a harmonious relationship between the industries.