Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 04, 2020


For one day, the epicenter of the global aviation industry will be in Washington, D.C. Industry leaders at the U.S. Chamber’s 2020 Aviation Summit on March 5 will dig into some of the biggest issues in the industry.

Here’s a taste of what to expect.

Global travel and transport

Like other industries, the coronavirus is top of mind. Airlines are focusing on safety for their passengers and employees as they assess the virus’ effects. Also, global supply chain disruptions have impacted air cargo and manufacturing. Industry leaders will discuss how they’re dealing with the situation.

Future Technology

While the near-term could be turbulent, aviation’s technological future looks bright.

Companies are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions. One answer is electric-powered planes. As battery technology improves, so does the viability of this technology. Boeing came up with the SUGAR Volt, a hybrid electric aircraft concept, and Airbus is working on the E-Fan X project.

“Today’s batteries allow us, with the most advanced car or the most advanced plane, a range of about 400 km,” said German pilot Klaus Ohlmann. “In five years, we will have double [capacity]. In ten years, some scientists speak about ten times more capacity.”

Another tech innovation in development is delivery by drone. This month, the University of California San Diego Medical School became only the second medical school to begin FAA-approved tests of drone-delivered medical supplies.

Workforce development

As with many other industries, workforce shortages are one of the biggest challenges.

Air traffic is expected to double every 12-15 years. More workers to build, maintain, and operate aircraft will be needed. According to the Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook, North America will need 117,000 new pilots, 118,000 new aircraft technicians, and 154,000 new cabin crew employees over the next 20 years.

“Companies are partnering with aviation and flight schools to recruit and train more pilots, and the industry is working with the military to recruit veterans,” said Carol Hallett, counselor at the U.S. Chamber. “These companies and organizations are also working with Congress to promote transportation careers.”

The need for hundreds of thousands of more workers—from factories to the cockpit—will make effective workforce development a critical issue for the industry.

Learn more about these and other critical issues facing the aviation industry by joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the 2020 Aviation Summit at the Ronald Reagan Building on March 5.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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