With the introduction of a bill creating the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA), the industry has moved a step closer to addressing the barriers and challenges for increasing the aviation workforce. The bill – S-3860 The National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act – can be found here.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), creates an independent, stakeholder-led national center for aviation, a forum for cross-disciplinary collaboration for supporting aviation and aerospace education and curriculum efforts. It would, said the two legislators, “leverage industry expertise to develop and deploy the needed workforce of trained and qualified pilots, engineers and maintainers. It would also serve as a central repository of economic and safety data and advance a collaborative process to promote aviation in the United States and assist in the development of the next generation of aviation and aerospace workers.”
The legislation, which results from industry recommendations called for by Inhofe last year, comes shortly after the House Aviation Subcommittee held hearings recounting the challenges of students from such education institutions as Queens-based Aviation High School and Vaughn College in pursuing careers in aviation including the lack of educational funding and the need to equip such institutions for the 21st Century technology used in aircraft. ATEC reported on the hearings earlier.
The two legislators have long spearheaded efforts to address industry workforce challenges and this legislation enjoys wide-spread support from stakeholders across the industry.
“The NCAA will advance a collaborative process to promote aviation in the United States and assist in the development of the next generation of aviation and aerospace workers,” said Inhofe in introducing the bill. “I appreciate all the input and support from stakeholders across the aviation community that have made today’s legislation possible.”
Duckworth agreed. “As a pilot, I know that investing in aviation-focused education and workforce development programs helps attract and retain the best talent and keeps our nation at the forefront of global aviation innovation,” she said. “I’m proud to introduce the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act with Sen. Inhofe to support the development of next-generation aviators and foster collaboration in the aviation and aerospace industries to help meet the demands and challenges of tomorrow.”
On Feb. 19, a group of ATEC representatives visited Washington DC for a "check in" with congressional representatives to push the Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act (S.3043/H.R.5427).
The bill, which has broad industry support and largely based on language ATEC offered in its comments to the part 147 NPRM and SNPRM, directs the FAA to replace the current, long-outdated rule with new language. The legislative effort comes in response to a slow-moving regulatory process and industry's call for a performance-based approach, elements that are not present in the FAA's current regulatory proposals.
The group met with 18 congressional offices in one day, focusing on members of the aviation subcommittee in both the House and the Senate. The meetings came in the wake of a Feb. 11 House congressional hearing on workforce development, a venue congressional leaders used to highlight the need for modernized aviation training.
"Our group included representatives from all sectors of education, including private colleges, four-year public institutions, and community colleges," said Southern Utah University Director of Global Aviation Maintenance Training and ATEC Legislative Chair Jared Britt. "And we had outstanding support from industry, including MRO, airlines, and labor. It made a powerful statement in our congressional meetings."
ATEC members are encouraged to capitalize on the momentum and reach out to members of Congress asking them to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill. See the grassroots action toolkit for resources and instructions.
AAR, an independent provider of aviation services to commercial and government customers around the world needs to fill more than 150 positions throughout its 60-location aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) network and sees ATEC and its annual conference as a great way to do it.
“The ATEC Employer Link is a critical stop that allows us to engage with students as well as educators that producing the technical workforce needed throughout the aviation industry,” said Ryan Goertzen, AAR’s vice president workforce development.
Goertzen pointed to the Company’s EAGLE Career Pathway Program designed to provide a systematic path for high school and college students to develop their careers at aviation maintenance providers like AAR and beyond. Selected EAGLE partner schools provide the level of training that exceeds the FAA standards and prepares students for entry to one of five U.S. AAR MRO facilities.
“The EAGLE Career Pathway Program is a perfect example of the importance of attracting students to the careers as aviation technicians,” he said. “We are dedicated to growing the talent necessary to meet the aviation maintenance demands of the future. EAGLE is also a marketing tool used by schools to explain the career path beyond the entry-level technician role to positions in management, maintenance operations, quality control and safety."
“We have over 6,000 employees worldwide for the global MRO business,” Goertzen explained. “A large part of our MRO business is supported by a skilled workforce of over 3,000 aviation maintenance technicians that help us deliver quality service to our customers. That is why it is so important to develop the pipeline. So, we will be an active participant in this year’s ATEC Annual Conference and Career Fair. It is one of our most important opportunities to educate the community on career opportunities in aviation maintenance and we are very much looking forward to interacting with students and educators there.”
AAR offers competitive benefits and professional development essential to individuals career growth. AAR supports learning and development because it creates a culture that encourages, supports and innovation. The Company has immediate openings for aircraft maintenance technicians. To view open positions, visit aarcorp.com/careers.
AAR is an independent provider of aviation services to commercial and government customers in over 100 countries. AAR’s aftermarket expertise and award-winning Market Solutions, including MRO Services, Parts Supply, Integrated Solutions and Manufacturing, can be integrated or leveraged separately to help customers increase efficiency and reduce costs while maintaining high levels of quality, service and safety. It is a trusted partner to airlines, militaries and OEMs delivering competitiveness so they can focus on transporting passengers, cargo and parts around the world.
With a team of more than 12,000 professionals, United Airline Technical Operations has been involved in ATEC for about seven years and considers it one of its more valuable partners, according to Senior Manager Tech Operations Matt Fortin.
“ATEC is an extremely valuable resource for United Airlines and for the collective industry,” he said. “The issues they fight for, the initiatives they drive, the investments they are making means ATEC is a powerhouse promoting awareness, driving solutions, and fighting for the best interests of technical schools and organizations.”
United has over 80 year's experience in the airline maintenance industry and, in addition to seeing to its own fleet and operations, it has more than 40 customers worldwide that have contracted for the United quality of maintenance. The Tech Ops team numbers more than 8,900 aviation maintenance technicians and inspectors and more than 3,900 engineers and support employees. It has more than 40 line stations – the largest network of its kind – and a 2.9 million-square-foot maintenance center in San Francisco. It has a complete array of specialities including landing gear, composites, components, engines, line maintenance and AOG/GEM.
Fortin is looking forward to the upcoming ATEC Annual Conference and cited many reasons for United’s participation. “Networking, education and promoting United Airlines are important,” he said. “But there are so many valuable breakout sessions and engagement opportunities during the event. Every aviation company and technical school should circle this date on their calendars!”
“ATEC helps me to understand the issues facing Part 147 training organizations and allows me to provide insight to my colleagues that can only be found be engaging with the membership of ATEC,” said Walker, who is active as an Industry Board Member. “My organization is involved in maintenance type training and so the opportunity to participate in ATEC only helps to broaden our perspective of maintenance training.”
A decade-long member, Boeing values the insight received from ATEC. Boeing’s current maintenance training courses which cover the 787 and 737 MAX as well as legacy programs such as the 737 NG, 747-8 767-200/300, 717, 737 Classic, 747-400 and 777. Boeing offers comprehensive and flexible maintenance training products and services to customers and focuses on enabling the customers to train themselves by licensing them its assembled and content-rich training materials.
A key company goal is to enable training at the customer location which provides a cost-effective training solution. Benefits include OEM-created material, the ability to easily edit/modify courses for other uses to increase training flexibility and provide training to staff who otherwise would not attend training at Boeing. It also increases flexibility and the reduces time away from home base and provides ongoing support and technical consultation.
“There are several reasons why I attend the conference every year,” he said. “Probably number one for me is seeing all of the members. It’s been almost 10 years of participation and I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the members. I really enjoy engaging with this community and it really helps that we have in common many of the same concerns and ideas with respect to aviation maintenance training. I also enjoy attending the various sessions that are scheduled at the conference as it gives me an opportunity to listen to other issues or viewpoints that I can’t get anywhere else.”
With top airline and maintenance, repair and overhaul companies scheduled to attend the ATEC Career Fair on March 30 at the Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus in Fort Worth, students are urged to reserve their place for networking with future employers.
The popular career fair is part of ATEC's annual conference and will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is where aspiring aviation maintenance professionals and recruiters come together to discuss career opportunities. The Career Fair provides an opportunity for employers to scout out new talent and aspiring AMTs to make an impression. Employers already signed on include AAR, Air Wisconsin, Envoy, Aviation Technical Services, JSFirm, Elliott Aviation, Endeavor Air, Lockheed Martin, United, Piedmont and PSA.
Career fair attendees are required to attend a preparation webinar, taking place on Tue, Mar 3, 2020 at 1:00 PM - 1:30 PM CST. The webinar will provide exclusive information on employers along with sessions on job interviewing coaching and resume building.
Employers interested in participating can sign up here.
***Update 2/26/20*** Read ATEC's written statement submitted to the congressional hearing record here.
It is clear from testimony at the recent hearing on workforce issues before the House Aviation Subcommittee, that more programs are being developed to attract kids at a younger age and to create high school partnerships, internships and apprenticeships. Industry and government are also working to ensure smoother transitions between military and civilian workforces.
Witnesses, including Aviation High School Principal Steven Jackson and Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology President Sharon DeVivo joined Delta Tech Ops and Gulfstream Aerospace to deliver a unified message. Eliminating barriers to entry, creating new funding streams, and updating antiquated training regulations were suggestions provided for governmental support of aviation workforce development.
Training capacity is a barrier, according to Aviation High School Principal Steven Jackson, who reported the entire aviation maintenance school capacity in the US is 35,000 students but because of the outdated perception of aviation mechanics, part 147 schools fill only half the seats. He indicated schools will not be able to meet the demand for193,000 aviation maintenance personnel in the next 20 years, especially as other industries attract graduates away from aviation. He suggested a rebranding of sorts.
“Troubleshooting a Boeing 787 requires an individual with advance training, who has the ability to analyze symptoms, read and interpret sophisticated wiring diagrams, use complex tooling, and test equipment in order to determine the root of the problem,” said Jackson. “Within the industry, we often debate the titles of positions: mechanic vs technician. However, we strongly feel that the mechanic would be better represented and marketed, as a career, if they were to be branded as the aircraft engineers as they are.”
Jackson also pushed for lowering the employment age to provide high school students the opportunity to get on-airport jobs.
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology President Sharon DeVivo noted that education programs like Vaughn provide an equality of opportunity, with 82% of students coming from minority communities.
“The average family income for a Vaughn student is about $39,000 and within one year of graduation, 99 percent of those students are employed or continuing their education,” she said, noting the average debt load is more than $17,000 for maintenance students. “That is the evidence of the transformation possible with a Vaughn education. We don’t just change that student’s life we change the whole family’s trajectory.
DeVivo went on to suggest that Congress increase the maximum Pell award since many student families do not qualify for a PLUS loan (the traditional loan offered to parents of students) owing to credit scores or lack of credit. “By lowering the overall debt load for the neediest students, you provide a lifetime career path with incredible opportunities.”
The two educators were joined by Joseph McDermott, managing director, Delta Technical Operations, Jay Neely, vice president of law and public affairs, Gulfstream Aerospace and Dana Donati, general manager and director of academic programs, LIFT Academy. All urged support for new regulations for training aviation maintenance personnel, now the subject of FAA rulemaking and legislation introduced in the Senate and House late last year.
Witnesses and legislators expressed growing frustration with the slow rulemaking process and the FAA’s continued delay to promulgate a new part 147. The Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act of 2019 would update decades old regulation in favor of a performance-based system and ensure schools have the flexibility to teach relevant curriculum.
Industry welcomed news, delivered by FAA Senior Advisor for Aviation Workforce Outreach Kate Lang, that the agency is planning to issue part 147 by October. Lang’s fills a new FAA position responsible for promote intra-agency support of workforce issues. The recent creation of the FAA’s Aviation Workforce Steering Committee will assess aviation workforce challenges and identify concrete actions that will have a positive impact.
But her appointment, while welcome, also indicated how late government is to addressing the shortage. General Accountability Office (GAO) Director Physical Infrastructure Issues Heather Krause spoke of a need to further study the issue and gather data from various departments. In addition, Krause suggested there is no shortage, as GAO reported in its most recent workforce study analyzed by ATEC recently. Arizona Representative Greg Stanton countered GAO's conclusion stating studies show 50% of workers are shortly heading into retirement and 70% of companies surveyed reported hiring difficulties.
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February 12, 2020: New to Avotek-Online and available now: Principles of Sound. Sound is an important factor in the life of aviation professionals and this course provides some of the base knowledge to help you understand how sound is created, how it is propagated, and the effects it can have on aircraft and personnel.
Principles of Sound joins Avotek’s list of converted programs previously offered only on DVD for classroom use. Over the last year, Avotek has converted five DVDs into online programs in an effort to make their products more accessible to professionals, professors and students. These five programs are part of our AMT Skills Series. Avotek-Online doesn’t just stop there. You can find the AET Test Prep Series on the website as well.
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Avotek has earned an industry reputation for quality and excellence. Our team of authors includes mechanics, inspectors, aviation experts, and instructors. They are actively involved in aviation maintenance training or working in the aviation maintenance field. They bring their expertise to Avotek from colleges, universities, and current hands-on experience.
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This press release is also available at https://www.avotek.com/new-avotek-online-course-available-now-principles-of-sound/
The Aviation Technology Program with Pierpont Community and Technical College at Bridgeport, WV have two general aviation airframes available to a good home, Director Dr. Brad Gilbert, told ATEC. The two airframes – minus engines – are a Beech Baron and a Cessna 310
For more information contact Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org or Elliott Stricklin 304-367-4800.
In response to a 2018 FAA Reauthorization Bill directive, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report on the aviation maintenance workforce to facilitate FAA efforts to promote a “robust, diverse workforce.” While the report recognizes limitations on datasets provided through the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the FAA, it ultimately concludes, as it did in a 2014 report, that “labor market indicators… (unemployment, wages, and employment)… were not consistent with the existence of hiring difficulties.” In other words, since wages are not going up, and the population of current technicians is not increasing, GAO concludes there is no indication of a shortage.
ATEC takes issue with the finding given 1) the Bureau of Labor Statistics data is insufficient since it does not distinguish between certificated and non-certificated technicians 2) the analysis does not appear to have taken into consideration looming retirements, and 3) ATEC data suggests that wages are in fact increasing as illustrated by the data in the soon-to-be published 2020 Pipeline Report will show that beginning hourly rates for AMTS graduates are on the rise. That said, the GAO conclusion is not necessarily counter to what industry has been seeing or saying—that the shortage may not be upon us now, but it soon will be. Indeed, the 2017 Oliver Wyman report indicated demand will not outstrip supply for maintenance technicians until 2023.
The report contains some other interesting tidbits, including a statement by FAA officials that the new part 147 rule will publish in October 2020. It also presents some much-sought-after data regarding the number of exiting military personnel with aviation maintenance technician experience, something industry will use to help us better understand the number of transitioning veterans we fail to recruit to support civil aviation.
The report comes days before a scheduled House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on aviation maintenance workforce issues. “Looking Forward: The Future of America’s Aviation Maintenance and Manufacturing Workforce,” will take place on Feb. 11 starting at 10 AM. Several ATEC member representatives will testify, including Aviation High School, Vaughn College, and Delta Air Lines.
See the hearing live on the subcommittee's website.
On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, the House Subcommittee on Aviation will hold a hearing entitled, “Looking Forward: The Future of America’s Aviation Maintenance and Manufacturing Workforce.”
Several individuals representing ATEC member organizations will participate in the hearing, including Aviation High School, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, and Delta Air Lines.
The community is encouraged to submit a written statement for the committee record. Additional information on the hearing, specific witnesses, and online viewing opportunities will be announced on the ATEC website as it is available.
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.