At its fall 2019 board meeting, ATEC directors approved a plan that will usher in the next phase of development for the trade association and a pathway toward helping fulfill the significant workforce needs in aviation maintenance. Directors assessed and revised the council’s Flightplan, and with that strategic roadmap in place, approved a funding plan to support three initiatives:
To support these three new endeavors, the ATEC board has elected to increase dues for all membership categories from $350 to $600 annually, effective January 1, 2020. The increase effectively merges the membership dues previously paid to ATEC and NRF and results in a net increase of $100 per year for ATEC members that were also NRF members (a majority of the membership).
To ensure the council clearly communicates its intent and reasons for making its decision, ATEC President Gary Hoyle penned a letter to all ATEC members that went out today. For more information, see the dedicated Q&A page, linked below.
Earlier this month an ATEC contingent descended upon Washington, D.C. for its annual Fly-in. This pilgrimage happens each fall to push legislative and regulatory action, meet with key leaders, and conduct critical business for the organization.
The event kicked off with a roundtable discussion with FAA officials. Flight Standards Service Deputy Executive Director Larry Fields and Deputy Director Office of Safety Standards Van Kerns were joined by 12 of their colleagues to discuss a laundry list of regulatory issues impacting certificated part 147 schools.
Coming off the recent publication of the part 147 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, attendees discussed the impact proposed mandates would have on schools, and the role of accrediting bodies vs. the FAA in overseeing educational quality elements in their technical programs. ATEC strongly suggested—as it did in its comments to the SNPRM—that the FAA defer to Department of Education accreditation requirements on all matters concerning educational oversight, and took the opportunity to educate officials on the role of accreditors. (See presentation by Aviation Institute of Maintenance Vice President Joel English, The Triad in Higher Education.)
The council then discussed a formal letter it sent the week prior, asking the FAA to provide for part 147 “additional fixed locations,” and better facilitate maintenance program expansion into high schools (see related story, below). FAA representatives also gave updates on airman testing system improvements and the anticipated expansion of the Organization Designee Authorization program, an effort that would greatly expand access to testing for mechanic certificate applicants (see related story).
A lunch briefing by Aeronautical Repair Station Association Executive Vice President Christian Klein gave attendees an update on the grant programs authorized under the recent FAA reauthorization bill (see related story). Klein encouraged attendees to educate congressional leaders on the need to include funding in 2020 appropriations legislation so that the Department of Transportation can implement the program as directed (See related story, below).
Klein was joined by Policy Advisory for Senator James Inhofe (OK) Dan Hillenbrand who briefed attendees on a new legislative effort to push part 147 rulemaking. The Senator has championed several legislative initiatives (including a provision in the FAA reauthorization bill mandating promulgation of part 147 within six months, see related story). The latest legislative effort would direct the agency to issue an ATEC-drafted part 147 within 90 days.
The legislative effort leverages regulatory language provide in the council’s comments to the SNPRM (see related story), and mandate that the agency promulgate the language as written by the ATEC community. The plan was initiated after the agency suggested a final rule is still two years away, and publication of a less-than-optimal supplemental proposal (see related story).
Attendees were presented with a discussion draft of the legislation in order to solicit review and comment from the community and legislative leaders (see issue page with more details on the proposal). Hillenbrand asked that the community identify potential Senate co-sponsors, as well as House leaders willing to introduce companion legislation on the House side. A final bill is expected to be introduced soon.
The day concluded with briefings on federal initiatives impacting career technical education from representatives of the STEM Education Coalition and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. STEM’s James Brown and the White House’s Cindy Hasselbring informed attendees on how the council might better align their regulatory and legislative priorities with the Administration, and what resources are available to help the industry communicate their issues and proposed mandates.
A workshop to kick off the first research phase of Choose Aerospace—an organization created to advance awareness in aviation maintenance—rounded out the day. Level 7 Market Research Senior Managing Partner Kathleen Costello led attendees in an open discussion to supplement the firm’s findings at a recent student focus group—held at the University of the District of Columbia Community College. The research project is initially focused on marketing best practices for attracting new talent into the workforce pipeline. Information gathered from students at UDCCC and attendees at the ATEC Fly-in will publish in an initial report later this year.
After a full day of briefings on the issues, attendees were well prepared for meetings with congressional leaders the following day. Aviation maintenance education representatives held 44 meetings pushing ATEC’s top legislative issues, including garnering support for federal grant funding and legislation to fast-track an ATEC-drafted part 147. Efforts were successful, with congressional leaders overwhelmingly in support of all ATEC’s priorities.
After two days of briefings, meetings, and fellowship (thanks to AMFA, AVOTEK, AIM, Piedmont for keeping us fed and watered!), the ATEC board of directors held is semi-annual, in-person meeting to discuss council business. Directors voted in favor of a funding plan that will support the next phase of ATEC development. A 2020 dues increase will support the creation of a new charitable organization that will administer scholarships previously available to aviation maintenance programs and students through the Northrop Rice Foundation, and facilitate the Choose Aerospace coalition. Members will receive additional information about these exciting next steps in the coming weeks.
Thanks to all the speakers, sponsors, and attendees that made this year’s Fly-in a success. Through events like the Fly-in, ATEC ensures your voice is heard. If you weren’t able to participate in Washington there are more ways to get involved. Invite a member of congress to your school and show them what you do in your community. Volunteer to serve on an ATEC committee. Attend our annual conference next April in Fort Worth. Join us in building the future.
Download event materials, speaker presentations, and photos at atec-amt.org/fly-in-2019.
Senate appropriators have penciled in only half of the funding called for in the FAA reauthorization for aviation workforce development programs including the AMT and pilot grant programs, the industry coalition supporting these programs reported.
The FY 2020 Transportation, House and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) appropriations bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week includes funding for both the technician workforce development and pilot education programs. However, unlike the House bill (H.R. 3163), the Senate bill (S. 2520) does not fund both programs at the fully authorized level ($5 million each), instead providing a combined $5 million for both. The report states (at page 42):
Aviation Workforce Development Programs.—The Committee is concerned with the shortage of trained pilots and aviation technicians for our Nation’s commercial, recreational, and military aviation industries. The Committee recommendation includes $5,000,000 within Systems Planning and Resource Management for the Aviation Workforce Development Programs as authorized by section 625 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. Funding shall be used for both aircraft pilot workforce and aviation maintenance workforce.
“While it’s not the slam dunk we were hoping for, the Senate T-HUD bill is a step in the direction,” wrote ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein, in his update to ATEC and other industry organization who are members of the coalition supporting the training initiatives. “The fact that the Senate bill contains some money for the programs significantly increases the likelihood that they’ll be funded for FY 2020. The question now is how much Congress will provide. Our mission is to do everything in our powers to ensure the number in the conference report is the House number ($10 million total), not the Senate’s.”
A coalition of industry group supporters will continue to make the case for investing in America’s aviation workforce.
ATEC is encouraging its members to contact legislators in support of full funding for the AMT program. ARSA has provided materials to support continuing advocacy here.
While 81% of aviation/aerospace’s current workforce recommend their career to families and friends, the industry still has pockets of despair including the fact that the number of women in the industry has stubbornly resisted change coming in at only 25% for over two decades. Re-skilling has also become more critical with only 4% of companies surveyed in the Aviation Week, Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and American Institute of Aerospace and Astronautics (AIAA) study now having such programs.
Some of the results were revealed during an AvWeek Podcast Can the Aerospace Industry Shake its White, Male Image? during which AIA CEO Eric Fanning discussed industry challenges with AvWeek Editor in Chief Joe Anselmo and Executive Editor Jen DiMascio. Results of the study were covered in the September 16 issue of AvWeek.
While the industry is focusing attention on recruiting students into STEM in middle and high school, Fanning said the work needs to start as early as kindergarten with continued emphasis throughout grade school owing to the drop out rate for STEM studies around the third or fourth grade. DiMascio said there is little exposure to STEM, aerospace and aviation in the early grades. On a hopeful note, Fanning pointed out students are more diverse as evidenced by AIA’s rocketry challenge for middle schoolers who are much more diverse than in the past.
“It is harder to start STEM later in their education,” he said. “We have to focus on kids as young as possible and get them and keep them excited about STEM. We need to make sure our school districts have the resources because STEM education is more expensive. Only one in six high school graduates who are prepared to study STEM, actually pursue that route in college. And, only half of those stay with and graduate with a STEM degree.”
One of the problems, he said, is the view that aviation/aerospace technology is old compared to more recent industries because it has been around for more than a century. This despite the development of unmanned systems, commercial space transport and urban mobility.
“It falls on us to talk about the aerospace brand, what it has done and what the future looks like and show that to kids,” said Fanning. “We don’t know what that future looks like, but we do know that a lot of things that are now done on the ground will be done in the air. The potential is almost limitless.”
DiMascio pointed to the growing number of women aviation/aerospace executives but cited a University of Wisconsin study showing women left industry within five years to start families because of lack of advancement or workplace culture. She emphasized they are not leaving the workforce because more than half continue to work outside the home after they leave the industry. In fact, women pilots report work rules as a major impediment in careers for all pilots.
“A lot can be done to change workforce policies in the industry to keep women in our workforce,” she said, pointing to Boeing’s Return to Flight program. “It is hard for women to re-enter the industry even after three years. Boeing’s program provides internships to phase them back into the workforce. Without such programs we are leaving out a lot of engineers the industry might be able to bring in.”
Fanning agreed, adding diversity is an issue throughout industry, not just aviation/aerospace. “We have to do better,” he said. “We have to invest heavily in STEM education. Every country is stagnant for such investments except China. This is a global competitive issue for America in addition to it being a national security issue. The Pentagon has definitely woken up to this issue but the rest of the government has yet to wake up. Our industry is important for the economy, for jobs, and because we want to keep head of our competitors and adversaries.”
With rapid changes in technology, re-skilling programs are more critical than ever.
“We have difficulty finding new workers, so we have to have the ability to retain our workforce through re-skilling programs for those who want to stay,” said Fanning. “The Department of Labor wants more re-skilling programs and asked industry to develop accreditation standards because the department couldn’t keep up with the demand. I was shocked at how many members signed up to do these programs. Only 4% had re-skilling programs and we expect that to grow to 40% in the next five years.”
ATEC Asks FAA for Regulatory Framework to Support High School Dual Enrollment Programs
Note: The following text is largely based on an Aviation Week Network article, scheduled to publish in October’s edition of InsideMRO.
A recent ATEC initiative asks the FAA to provide a better framework for aviation maintenance programs looking to expand their reach into high schools.
ATEC’s Pipeline Report estimates that certificated Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools (AMTS) need to increase production by 30% to meet projected industry demand for certificated mechanics over the next 20 years. Unfortunately, FAA data indicates that AMTS enrollments are shrinking, not growing. Nationally, A&P student populations have decreased 2% since 2014.
One increasingly popular strategy to increase enrollment and program awareness is through the development of high school partnerships, whereby high school students can begin mechanic coursework earlier in their educational careers.
According to a 2017 ATEC survey, 8% of AMTS have high school dual enrollment programs. In most cases, the high school students are bused onto the AMTS campus to complete the coursework. Or, the AMTS will award credit for “previous experience” (allowable under § 147.31(c)) for students that enroll in the A&P program after high school graduation.
Out of the 62 respondents (representing 36% of all AMTS), 66% said that if the FAA regulation provided a better pathway for dual enrollment programs, they would be more likely to initiate such a program.
In a Sept. 6 letter to the FAA, ATEC called on the agency to make policy changes that would allow schools to deliver AMTS content to enrolled students away from its “primary location,” via “additional fixed locations” provided on the AMTS operations specification. Under the proposal, a part 147 certificated school could provide its curriculum at a partner high school and bestow upon that high school student AMTS credit without that student first enrolling in the A&P program. Since the high school is provided as an “additional fixed location” on the part 147 operations specifications, that location would also be subject to FAA oversight.
While the regulation does not prohibit AMTS from providing coursework at another location, FAA “endorsement” of the practice varies across local offices, with some officials expressly forbidding it. Local inspectors prohibiting the AMTS from providing content “away from the fixed location” often cite FAA guidance material that says schools may not “operate a satellite facility” and that “all AMTS must be FAA-certificated as separate facilities.” Notwithstanding the fact that guidance cannot impose requirements or prohibitions, it is safe to say that the language has discouraged the proliferation of dual enrollment programs.
The FAA recognized the issue in its recent part 147 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, offering regulatory language that would provide for the approval of “satellite facilities.” ATEC maintains that the proposal is overly cumbersome and would unnecessarily create a new set of approvals that would dissuade many AMTS from utilizing the proffered solution (see related story). Its recent letter proposes the alternative approach.
ATEC discussed the proposal in detail during the FAA roundtable at the Washington Fly-in earlier this month. It is standing by for the FAA’s formal response to its request.
The Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM) is excited to accept applications for the 2020 AWAM scholarship season.
Applicants can apply online and watch the application tutorial video at www.awam.org/scholarships.
Student, technician, and instructor scholarships are available (to be eligible, the instructor must be employed by an AWAM-member school).
Direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current A&Ps and students are invited to join Southwest Airlines at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Fremont, CA on Sept. 13 to learn more about career opportunities.
Tech Ops leadership from the West Coast Region (LAX, SAN, LAS, PHX, OAK) will be on hand for a Q&A session; People Department Recruiters will also conduct on-site candidate screenings.
See the informational flyer below for more information.
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.