After 16 years with FAA and more than 55 years as an aviator and maintenance human factors professional, Dr. William Johnson has retired from federal service.
Among his many contributions to the aviation industry, he is the founder of, and a frequent contributor to, the FAA Aviation Mx Human Factors Quarterly. In honor of his tenure, the March issue was dedicated to recognizing Dr. Bill's outstanding contributions to the Quarterly, by reprinting his favorite articles published over the years, including a Dec. 2018 column authored by ATEC Executive Director Crystal Maguire.
Check out the March 2021 newsletter, and sign up to receive future publications at Check out the March 2021 newsletter, and sign up to receive future publications, at www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/maintenance_hf/fatigue/publications/.
Dr. Bill has been a steadfast supporter of the council and its initiatives. We congratulate him on his "retirement" and look forward to taking part in his next adventure, whatever that may be.
The FAA has assigned the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) a new task to make recommendations on the feasibly of allowing a repairman certificate issued under § 65.101 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to be portable from one employing certificate holder to another.
Establishment of the working group was directed through Congress in 2018. The mandate directs the FAA to assign to ARAC the task of making recommendations with respect to the regulatory and policy changes, as appropriate, to allow a repairman certificate to be more portable from one employing certificate holder to another.
Currently, under § 65.101, individuals employed and recommended by an FAA-certificated repair station or air carrier, may apply for and obtain a repairman certificate allowing supervision and/or approval for return to service of the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alteration of civil aviation products and articles performed under the auspices of the air carrier or repair station certificate. The repairman certificate differs from a mechanic certificate issued under part 65 subpart D, in that it only qualifies the individual to work under the authority of an air agency repair station or air carrier certificate (i.e., "only in connection with the duties for the certificate holder by whom the repairman was employed and recommended"). When the repairman leaves the employment of the repair station or air carrier, the individual loses the repairman certificate and the individual and the new employer must reapply for another repairman certificate.
The Working Group is asked to provide recommendations on the feasibility of increasing the portability of repairmen certificates across employing certificate holder.
Candidates are required to submit self nominations by April 19.
In a new report, the Government Accountability Office describes devastating impacts to the air transportation sector workforce, and sets forth specific recommendations to support industry recovery.
In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Aviation, GAO Director, Physical Infrastructure Heather Krause cited Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an estimated 122,600 jobs in the air transportation sector (over 23 percent) have been lost since peak employment levels of 516,900 in February 2020. (Numbers do not include activities in airport operations, manufacturing, or repair activities conducted outside an airline.)
"Airlines and airports sought to reduce their payroll expenses by, among other things, offering early retirement and voluntary separation programs, voluntary unpaid leave programs, freezing non-essential hiring, reducing executive and management compensation, and in some cases, involuntary furloughs and layoffs," said Krause. "For example, Delta Air Lines reported that 50,000 employees took unpaid leaves of absence and approximately 18,000 employees participated in its early retirement and voluntary separation programs from April 1 through December 31, 2020. American Airlines reported reducing its management and support staff team by approximately 5,100 positions (30 percent) and that more than 20,000 of its employees opted for an early retirement or long-term paid leave."
Krause cited similar workforce reductions for manufacturers and repair stations, mentioning "one large manufacturer of airplane engines" permanently reducing its global workforce by 25 percent.
The GAO report gives credence to a common concern that the pandemic has accelerated the long-anticipated shortage of key skill sets as aviation businesses reduce employment and skilled technicians migrate to other industries. Testimony made reference to the 2014 GAO report that warned of a coming shortage of aviation professionals as a result of retirements and a perception that fewer people are entering aviation professions, pre-COVID concerns that are likely to compound in a post-pandemic world.
GAO recommends targeted congressional assistance to support the highly skilled aviation workforce through worker retention incentives, aviation workforce retraining, and "efforts to strengthen the pipeline of new applicants for careers in aviation manufacturing and maintenance."
ATEC looks forward to working with Congress to identify new ways to support industry pipeline development efforts, and is spirited by the incredible innovations and ideas this community is proposing through a swarm of FAA grant program applications (due March 22!).
Update: The FAA responded to ATEC's Feb. 25 letter (discussed below), stating that the FAA "is in the process of developing the appropriate course of action that best aligns with the [part 147 directive's] requirements and intent," and that more information would be published in the 2021 Department of Transportation's semi-annual regulatory agenda, expected to be published in the spring. The status of the part 147 rulemaking is set forth on the Office of Management and Budget website, according to the published timetable, a final rule is expected in April.
In a Feb. 25 letter to FAA officials, ATEC went on record setting forth its interpretation of the recent congressional mandate directing FAA to remove and replace the current part 147 with community-drafted language by March 27.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 116-260) directs the FAA to repeal Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 147 and issue interim final regulations, meaning the agency would promulgate the language as written, initially bypassing Administrative Procedures Act notice and comment requirements.
"We would therefore expect and support the agency’s determination that the part 147 interim rule become effective immediately upon publication, with the stipulation that it be subsequently subject to public notice and comment," said the council in its letter. "We also understand that the agency could thereafter make adjustment to the rule if warranted by public comment or notify the public through publication of a final rule that no changes were made to the interim rule."
The letter also addressed the law's directive that part 147 certificate holders align curriculum with emerging airman certification standards (ACS), and maintains that general reference to that standard should not invoke any additional administrative requirements that would further delay ACS publication (see related story) or subject the ACS to APA rulemaking procedures.
Despite our inability to bring the community together in person, the council’s advocacy efforts over the last year yielded remarkable results—the crowning achievement coming in the last few days of 2020 with the inclusion of part 147 reform mandates in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The new law requires the FAA to replace long-outdated aviation technical program regulations with a community-drafted, performance-based regulation that will provide opportunity for widespread innovations in aviation technical education.
This coming year, the community is setting its sights on initiatives that will ensure a smooth transition to the new regulatory framework, take advantage of emerging opportunities, and address additional choke points in the workforce pipeline. In the coming year the council will--
Interested in supporting our efforts? Sign up to receive the latest news, volunteer to serve on a committee, join the membership roster.
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.