Australia Takes Aim at Global Aircraft Maintenance Market

aircraft maintenance in Australia

Australia Aircraft Maintenance Workforce Shortage

By 2025, there will be an estimated 30% shortage in global aircraft maintenance workforce capacity, with Australia particularly hard hit. Properly trained and resourced inspectorate using agency enforcement tools is critical to the effective implementation of safety regulation. Even some Australia motor mechanic are being recruited to work in the aircraft maintenance industry.

The FAA is subject to much more oversight than is Australia’s CASA, which only reports to Senate Estimates Committees, the Auditor-General, and the occasional Senate inquiry. Aircraft maintenance is classified into line, heavy, engine and components. While on average labor accounts for 70% of the cost of maintenance, the labor component of line maintenance is 75%; heavy is 55%, engine is 9%.

Estimated Aircraft Maintenance Workforce

Getting an idea of the global size of the aircraft maintenance workforce is difficult, with the last reliable estimate being the 2011 Census with a reported 14,489 aircraft maintenance engineers, spread across the defense and civilian sector. Global third party maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) has grown into a AUD 84.4 billion industry. Its growth is expected to go past $AU 100 billion around 2024.

aircraft maintenance in Australia

Aircraft Maintenance Platforms custom manufactured in Australia. These platforms allow safe access for maintenance personnel.

Australian airlines have been slower to utilize offshore maintenance as a competitive strategy. They have sent overflow maintenance off shore, which is when several planes’ maintenance needs coincide and exceed available capacity. In the early years of maintenance offshoring between 2006 and 2010, Qantas sent its own inspectors to supervise the work of overseas shops.

There is evidence, both in aviation and other fields, that changes to work organization, such as outsourcing, can pose a significant challenge to the inspectorate’s capacity to fulfill its role. It adds a layer of complexity to their responsibilities for oversight. Where work is moved to another jurisdiction, as by offshoring, it is especially difficult to maintain adequate regulatory oversight.

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Thus, when Qantas sought to increase its rate of offshore maintenance in the 2000s (the result of internal restructuring to cut costs), a regulatory and supervisory apparatus was there to enable it. This included a mechanism for CASA to approve offshore MRO facilities and for teams of experienced Qantas inspectors.


Jason Friedman has 13+ years of safety professional and also in that time managed five figure monthly PPC account and SEO for safety consulting firm. His knowledge comes from real world hands on results.

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