Boeing recently released its latest Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), which projects commercial jet aircraft demand out over the next 20 years. Of even greater interest to the aviation maintenance world is the annual personnel demand that uses the CMO numbers to forecast the projected need for technicians as well as pilots and cabin crew.
The major takeaway from the 2023-2042 technician outlook comes as no surprise: the demand for qualified maintenance personnel is not easing anytime soon. Boeing projects a need for 690,000 maintenance technicians to support commercial carriers over the next two decades. That figure is a 12% increase over last year's forecast.
Some of the jump is easily explained by this year's return of Russia and other countries affected by sanctions related to the war in Ukraine. Last year's forecast did not include them. This year, they are back in the "Eurasia" geographic sector, which Boeing projects will need 156,000 technicians. Last year, the comparable "Europe" category had a projected need of 120,000.
Elsewhere, Boeing boosted projected needs for every other geographic sector except for one: North America. Here at home, Boeing projects a need for 125,000 technicians over the next 20 years. Last year's comparable figure was 134,000.
Several factors help explain the shift. North America's fleet is projected to have the slowest growth over the forecast period, at 1.8% annually. Along the way, carriers are expected to renew their fleets, welcoming more efficient, less maintenance-hungry models.
Not only will these new aircraft have the so-called "maintenance honeymoons" that mean little scheduled work over the first 5-10 years in service, but they will need less labor hours throughout their service lives, slightly easing commercial aviation technician-demand pressure.
Airlines in the region also continue to up-gauge their fleets aggressively, preferring aircraft with more seats. This will drive an increase in passenger traffic growth without a lock-step rise in fleet sizes or individual aircraft flights--both of which are key drivers for maintenance demand.
Does this mean demand for new mechanics is waning here at home? Not at all. Boeing's forecast covers only commercial aviation--and jet operations at that. Absent are any projections for business aviation, civil helicopter support and arguably the most intriguing and unpredictable civil segment--the emerging world of advanced air mobility.
FAA Releases Revision to General, Airframe and Powerplant Handbooks in Advance of Testing Transition
UPDATE: Following last Thursday’s release of the revised airframe and powerplant handbooks, the FAA released a revision to the general handbook on July 28. A summary of changes to the general handbook have been added to the story below, which was originally published on July 27.
The week of July 24, the FAA published long-awaited revisions to the General, Airframe, and Powerplant Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbooks. The handbook revisions are in response to the transition to the Mechanic Airman Certification Standard (ACS) as the testing standard on Aug. 1, 2023. The ACS became the part 147 curriculum standard last September, when the new part 147 went into effect.
The new release should not require major adjustment to align curriculum training materials. In its most recent Airman Testing Community Advisory (dated July 2023), the agency characterized the forthcoming revision as “minor,” an understatement at best. The changes are mostly editorial in nature and do not align handbook content with the ACS—that necessary and prudent adjustment is expected in the next “major” revision, scheduled for publication in June 2024 (general) and 2026 (airframe and powerplant).
Part 147 programs are required by regulation to align curriculum with the Mechanic ACS. Schools should continue to teach all included subject matter—without the benefit of handbook guidance—for any subject area not covered in FAA guidance. That said, given that all test questions must tie back to an ACS code and at least one regulatory reference listed in Chapter 8 of the ACS Companion Guide, if an element is not covered in a regulatory reference (most often the general, airframe, or powerplant handbook or AC 43.13-1), ATEC does not expect the subject matter to be tested.
Many thanks to our good friends at ASA who have conducted and shared a list of substantive changes to the handbooks. (For programs using ASA publications, expect the 2024 Test Guides to incorporate the ACS and this latest handbook revision. The publisher’s new versions will begin shipping in October).
Both handbook revisions combine two separate volumes into one and make global changes (in many but not all instances) to remove gender-specific pronouns and remove and replace the terms “cockpit” with “flight deck,” “disk” with “disc,” “tow-in” with “toe-in,” “tow-out” with “toe-out,” “fuel/air” with “air-fuel,” “counterweight” with “flyweight,” and “airplane” with “aircraft.”
A high-level summary of the substantive changes to each handbook are as follows:
Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook – General (8083-30B)
Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook – Airframe (8083-31B)
Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook – Powerplant (8083-32B)
The Federal Aviation Administration is now accepting applications for Round 3 of the Aviation Workforce Development Grants for Aircraft Pilots and Aviation Maintenance Technical Workers. The program, created by Congress in the 2018 FAA reauthorization bill, authorized $10 million in funding annually for pilot and maintenance workforce development programs.
The grant program will award recipients in increments up to $500k. Applications are due August 16, 2023. The FAA will be hosting a technical assistance webinar on Tuesday, July 25th to help potential applicants understand the grant program and requirements for applying. You can register for the webinar here.
For more information, please visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ang/grants/awd
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.