Grand Challenge in Quality in Aviation and Transportation Sectors

Quality of Aviation Workforce

The Boeing Pilot Outlook predicts a need for 117,000 new pilots between 2017 and 2036 in North America alone[1]. Worldwide, the demand for new pilots will be an astounding 637,000 during the same period. Currently, the training academies, colleges, and universities around the world do not have the collective capacity to meet this demand. To compound the issue, the intense demand could lead to compromise in performance standards and marginally qualified pilots may be placed in highly responsible roles a bit too prematurely. Additionally, the ratio between pilots and maintenance professionals, aviation managers, and air traffic controllers yields the total skills gap to about seven times the pilot demand. Thus, the grand challenge in aviation workforce development is to attract a larger pool of high quality candidates and develop safe, effective, and efficient pathways for their integration into the workforce. This challenge relates to the "Future of Work and Learning" impact area of the Polytechnic. 

In support of the above grand challenge, the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology is engaged in research projects on the following topics:

  • Local and Global Workforce Mobility and Agility
  • Competency-based Certification
  • On-demand Manufacturing and Delivery
  • Supply Chain Optimization
  • Passenger/Customer Experience

Quality of Service in the Transportation Industry

Another grand challenge is how we may make use of advances in data and decision science to improve quality of service in the transportation industry.  This challenge aligns with the restoration and improvement of urban infrastructure, one of the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges. It also relates to two impact areas of the Polytechnic: (a) Healthy and Sustainable Communities and (b) Realizing the Digital Enterprise.  The collection and analysis of distributed data from transportation systems improves management decisions regarding those systems and ultimately improves the quality of life of those who utilize transportation services.

Some of the specific research topics/projects include the following:

  • Data-driven Delivery of Adaptive/Personalized Learning
  • Business and Market Analytics
  • Value-based Optimization of Procedures
  • AI-enabled Data Integration Platforms
  • Predictive Analytics


Our Focus on Quality

Chien-tsung Lu and Stewart Schreckengast in Purdue Polytechnic's School of Aviation and Transportation Technology are hosting a delegation of 22 Chinese government aviation officials and airport representatives for two weeks in West Lafayette.