In a Jan. 22 memo, ATEC outlined an issue that has plagued aviation maintenance programs for some time.
The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) controls the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) which provides a taxonomic scheme supporting the tracking and reporting of fields of study. The CIP codes are used by U.S. institutes of higher education to categorize the programs they offer.
Agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, utilize commonly-categorized fields of study to determine what is considered STEM and what is not. The memo focuses in on the use of the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program list, used to administer the U.S. Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which only considers three of the six commonly-utilized aviation program CIP codes as a “STEM field.”
The memo seeks to educate leaders at the While House Office of Science and Technology Policy on the issue in an effort to expand OPT opportunities for international students, and also grant opportunities which often rely on the DHS framework to set forth STEM program eligibility criteria.
In a Jan. 16 letter, the council invited the "new" Administrator to join aviation education leaders at its upcoming Annual Conference in Fort Worth. In its communication, ATEC set forth the following regulatory priorities for aviation maintenance education:
1. Promulgate a New Part 147. Part 147 is currently undergoing rulemaking, and has been for the last several years. It is of the upmost importance to ATEC stakeholders that the FAA modernize aviation maintenance technician school curriculum so that schools are able to better align training with industry workforce needs. ATEC made significant comment to the 2015 NPRM and the 2019 SNPRM in an effort to influence development of a performance-based rule that will support the aviation industry for decades to come. It is also pushing for a legislative fix through recent introduction of the PARTT 147 Act.
2. Publish Mechanic Airman Certification Standards (ACS). ATEC representatives have been heavily involved in an FAA-industry working group that is developing the new testing standard and accompanying system that will revolutionize how our future aviators are taught and tested. ATEC encouraged the agency to work with the administration to get the standard published as soon as possible. In its deployment of the new testing system, ATEC reiterated its request that the agency use the ACS as the basis for training requirements, to ensure training and testing are correlated, and efficiencies attained.
3. Expand Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) to Mechanic Examinations. Currently, 30 percent of A&P school graduates do not take the exam necessary to receive a mechanic certificate; access to practical testing examiners was identified as one of the top barriers for students seeking FAA mechanic certification. ATEC therefore fully supports expansion of the ODA program to cover practical testing.
Administrator Steve Dickson was sworn in as the FAA administrator by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao on August 12, after being confirmed for a five-year term by the U.S. Senate on July 24, 2019. ATEC looks forward to working with Mr. Dickson's office in the years to come.
Legislative leaders have introduced The Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act (S.3043/H.R.5427), directing the Federal Aviation Administration to promulgate a community-drafted part 147. ATEC is calling on the community to reach out to congressional representatives and ask them to sign on in support of the legislation. Indeed, council leaders are planning a "mini Fly-in" for Feb. 19 and invite the aviation community to attend. If interested, email ATEC Executive Director Crystal Maguire.
The bill--largely based on language ATEC offered in its comments to the part 147 NPRM and SNPRM--directs Congress to replace the current, long-outdated rule with new language, effectively bypassing the rulemaking process and mandating that FAA make aviation education a rulemaking priority.
The legislative effort comes in response to a slow-moving regulatory process (it's been 16 years since the Governmental Accountability Office called for updates to curriculum requirements), and less-than-ideal proposals from the FAA (see the part 147 issue page for more information and timeline of events). The PARTT 147 Act specifically provides regulatory language that would take a performance-based approach, deferring to Department of Education oversight for all matters concerning quality of education, and giving schools the freedom to create curriculum based on competencies and industry needs.
Community leaders are encouraged to take the following steps to solicit congressional support for the PARTT 147 Act:
With an enrollment of 592 students, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics is one of the oldest and highly regarded aviation schools in the nation having been founded as the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service in 1927.
It became PIA in 1929 and through 1944 trained airframe and engine mechanics for the aviation industry. In 1944 William J. Graham purchased the school and incorporated Graham Aviation as a division of PIA. An aviation electronics (avionics) course was added to the curriculum in 1979, giving students a choice of training for certification as aviation maintenance technicians or aviation electronics technicians. Since 1929, PIA and the Graham Aviation Division have graduated more than 37,000 and 33,000 students, respectively. PIA graduates have been placed in careers throughout every segment of the aviation industry, including commercial air carriers, aircraft manufacturers and general aviation companies. The PIA campus, located on the Allegheny County Airport since 1946, is situated 8 miles southeast of downtown Pittsburgh.
In order to meet a growing need for qualified technicians in the aviation industry in the new millennium, PIA expanded beyond its Pittsburgh campus and into several branch campuses. In 2006, PIA began training at its first branch campus near Youngstown, OH. After the success of the Youngstown campus, PIA continued its expansion, opening a Hagerstown, MD, branch in 2011 and, a year later, an aviation maintenance technician school at Myrtle Beach International Airport.
A founding member of ATEC, PIA remains a strong supporter citing its unique role in supporting the aviation maintenance sector and its education needs.
“While many aviation related organizations may have some efforts directed to aviation maintenance, ATEC is completely committed to this sector and must be supported,” said Director of Campus Operations Gary Hoyle. “Without supporting ATEC our voices may fall silent. Together members make their voices echo from east to west coast as a roaring lion. Only with dedicated support from industry members and educational institutions can the aviation industry prepare for the future.”
The importance of attending ATEC events, said Hoyle, is in its dedication to developing a concrete plan of action for making positive changes in the aviation maintenance field.
“It’s about action, not just words,” he said. “That is PIA’s number one reason for attending and remaining involved. Its proactive mentality directly links with PIA’s mission statement and is integral to further strengthen the already strong foundation of the aviation industry.”
PSA Airlines operates an all-jet fleet consisting exclusively of Bombardier regional jet aircraft. It’s team numbers more than 5,000 employees who assist in operating more than 800 daily flights to nearly 100 destinations on behalf of American Airlines. Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, PSA has eight maintenance bases including Akron-Canton, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Dayton, Greenville, Norfolk, Pensacola and Savannah.
PSA offers top-tier compensation, benefits and stability for our aviation mechanics as well as two pathway programs to assist those seeking careers in commercial aviation maintenance. The Maintenance Student Pathway Program provides financial assistance up to $2,000 toward the Airframe & Powerplant test and the Military Transition Program provides up to $10,000 in financial assistance to those looking to transition out of the military.
PSA has been a proud ATEC partner for many years and will be an exhibitor during the ATEC Annual Conference in Fort Worth. It will also be participating in its career fair where it looks forward to collaborating with schools and industry partners and engaging with talent. For more information on PSA Careers click here.
Vocational education is gaining in prominence becoming a viable pathway for students to get a jump start on their careers. Recent coverage by the PBS News Hour Should more kids skip college for workforce training? is part of a new series on reconsidering education.
Educators interviewed for the segment indicated the benefit of vocational schools is a two-way street offering an alternative to rising college costs and student debt. Gaining the skills needed to enter the workforce also does not preclude college since a growing number of employers offer tuition assistance in their benefit package.
The trend toward the tracking-everyone-to-college approach is problematic, said commenters. Forty percent of those who go to four-year college and 70% of those attending community colleges never earn their degree. Many arrive unprepared, fall behind and end up in debt with no job or skills, no idea what they want to do and a minimum wage job.
Those interviewed pointed to statistics bearing out the value of different education programs since test scores are on par with other students. Students get robust academics including Algebra, English and Physics, with 73% scoring above proficient in Math and 90% above proficient in English on statewide tests, nearly matching the statewide averages.
At Southeastern High School profiled by PBS, the graduation rate was 90%. While SAT scores lagged, some educators found another statistic more important. Ninety percent were in the workforce, continuing with their college education or in the military, according to follow-up with vocational students at the high school.
The high school received 800 applications for the 400 slots available. The situation is similar at the highly competitive Aviation High School in Queens from which two women students ATEC met last year graduated and are either working as an AMT for FedEx while attending Queens College or on a full ride to Cornell.
Clearly vocational education – or Career & Technical Education as educators call it – is getting new consideration. Historically, tracked students into college or vocational programs – much of which was based on race, social class, behavioral problems or learning disability tracked to VoTech at much higher levels than their counterparts. Educators cautioned against returning to the old tracking methodology in favor of relying on the student to choose their own path.
JSfirm.com and ATEC have come together to expand on the current exchange agreement, which provides ATEC members a discount on job posts, and facilitates an aviation-maintenance specific job board on ATEC’s website.
“JSfirm.com has been working with ATEC for a few years with the common goal of helping sustain the aviation industry. We are excited to expand our involvement with ATEC by adding them to our growing list of job distribution partners. ATEC understands the impact JDN partnerships have for both companies and job seekers in aviation, in particular, recent graduates new to the industry,” said Abbey Hutter, Executive Director for JSfirm.com.
Crystal Maguire, Executive Director for The Aviation Technician Education Council, said “We are thrilled to be continuing and expanding our partnership with JSfirm.com. The ultimate goal of ATEC is to enable the aerospace community to meet its workforce needs; partnering with JSfirm.com helps us meet that goal by providing aviation maintenance students and alumni around the country with a free resource to connect with prospective employers.”
ATEC members who utilize JSfirm.com will receive discounted rates on new purchases to advertise their open positions. In addition to providing aviation industry jobs to the ATEC website, JSfirm.com will provide ATEC with features such as spotlights on ATEC member jobs. ATEC member schools will also receive a free 30-day ad, annually, to market open instructor positions. To take advantage of the opportunity, ATEC members can send job descriptions to email@example.com.
To view ATEC’s job postings page, visit: www.atec-amt.org/job-board.html
FAA Webinars on new airman testing rules now online
ATEC has scheduled a session on the new airmen certification testing requirements which became effective on January 13 during the upcoming ATEC Annual Conference in Fort Worth. In the meantime, the FAA webinar on the requirements has been posted online and includes the Airman Certification Tracking System to get an airman tracking number for those seeking an airman certificate. See below for a link to the information on mechanics and inspection authorization.
The Webinar covered the need for all persons taking a Knowledge Test to have an FAA Tracking Number (FTN), the removal of the embossed seal on a Knowledge Test Report, and the use of Airman Certification Standard’s codes on some Knowledge Test Reports.
Webinar URL: Airman Certificate Testing Service (ACTS) Recorded Webinar
The Airman Testing Branch web page
FAA Tracking Number Information (FTN)
FTN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where to Get an FTN?
Changes to Airman Knowledge Test Reports (AKTRs)
Important Information for Applicants Pursuing Mechanic, Parachute Rigger, and Dispatcher Certifications
As apprenticeship programs gain in acceptance, the Department of Labor (DoL) gave the practice a major boost when it approved the Aircraft Electronics Association’s (AEA) apprenticeship program which offers a competency-based occupational framework meeting industry standards.
Approved by the DoL Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Apprenticeship, the avionics technician apprenticeship program is a partnership with the Urban Institute and follows the FAA’s announcement a year ago formally recognizing the Aircraft Electronics Technology certification from ASTM’s National Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technology as equivalent to formal training when showing eligibility for the issuance of a repairman certificate.
"The avionics technician apprenticeship program offers a new career pathway where individuals can simultaneously earn a competitive wage, gain knowledge with structured learning and on-the-job training, and achieve industry-recognized credentials," said Mike Adamson, AEA president and chief executive officer. "It is no secret that the avionics industry must address the challenges posed by a tightened labor market and competition from other industries. Developing a nationally registered apprenticeship program was the next logical step to help cultivate the next generation of avionics professionals. Now that the apprenticeship program has been approved by the Department of Labor, AEA member repair stations have another tool to grow their own and successfully recruit, train and retain high-quality technicians. It is another critical step in our industry's ongoing workforce development efforts."
For more on the DoL approval click here. For guidance or companies and aspiring techs on the apprenticeship program click here.
A one-hour training session has been scheduled for March 26 during the 63rd annual AEA International Convention & Trade Show in Nashville, Tennessee.
Stay tuned for updates on everything ATEC members need to know as well as ways that you can help the council and the AMTS community.