The council will facilitate three online webinars next month, highlighting issues impacting the aviation technical workforce. Register now for these upcoming events:
The Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance is excited to be accepting applications for the 2021 AWAM scholarship season for two more weeks. The full scholarship flyer and application link can be found online at www.awam.org/scholarships.
If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a Sept. 29 letter to FAA Flight Standards Executive Director Rick Domingo, ATEC advocated for a stream-lined approach to distance learning approvals for aviation maintenance technician schools that provide other FAA-approved curriculum outside of part 147.
Blue Ridge Community College has for years sought FAA authorization to provide its Light Sport Repairman Training, approved through the FAA's Specialty Aircraft Examiner Branch, to students remotely. (AOPA recently highlighted the course in its Pilot Magazine (non-subscribers can click "Not a Subscriber" to access) as an underutilized opportunity for individuals wanting to explore aviation maintenance pathways.) FAA officials have thus far refused to allow the remote offering given the lack of inspector guidance specific to Light Sport Repairman Training online delivery.
ATEC argues that part 147 programs already go through rigorous approval processes to obtain distance learning authorization and that duplicative review is inefficient and unnecessary. "[Distance learning] authorization is based on a local office’s review of the policies and procedures in place for remote learning and has little to do with the content offered," said ATEC in its letter. "It is the association’s position that if the Light Sport Repairman Training course content has already been approved (here through the Specialty Aircraft Examiner Branch) then the method of delivery (i.e., distance learning) should not necessitate separate scrutiny."
ATEC asked that the FAA rely on a part 147 school’s distance learning authorization when assessing non-part 147 content for online delivery. It is currently awaiting the agency's response.
The latest Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook projects that 763,000 new civil aviation pilots, 739,000 new maintenance technicians and 903,000 new cabin crew members will be needed to fly and maintain the global fleet over the next 20 years. The forecast is inclusive of the commercial aviation, business aviation and civil helicopter industries and assumes air traffic recovers to 2019 levels within the next few years.
According to the report:
"The market downturn has spurred large-scale parking of the global fleet, creating new challenges for the industry. Despite a large number of aircraft in storage, technicians continue to play a vital role in ensuring the aircraft remain airworthy. Improper or incomplete maintenance could lead
to corrosion, damaged wires and other issues that lead to more extensive and expensive repairs. The need for continued maintenance of the parked fleet has mitigated the impact on technician employment worldwide."
The technician demand projections are only down 3.9% from last year's outlook, which Boeing suggests is due in part to the temporary decrease in MRO demand.
See the full outlook here, and sign up to attend a live webinar with Boeing on Nov. 10.
**Updated Oct. 21, 2020***
The Safety Assurance System (SAS) is an FAA oversight tool for certification and surveillance. It is most well known by industry as a software tool to collect data through utilization of Data Collection Tools (DCTs). The purpose of the program is to facilitate a risk-based, data-supported approach to oversight and standardize evaluation protocols.
Part 135, 142, and 145 certificate holders are currently subject to the SAS approach. Representatives of those sectors have argued that implementation missed the mark given questions are not weighted and therefore the system does not ensure resources are focused on the most vulnerable. Industry also contends that the prescriptive nature of the DCTs is contrary to the FAA’s movement towards performance-based rules, and that the majority of the questions are based in guidance and policy, not in regulations.
While the FAA contends that "SAS is not a separate safety standard and does not impose additional requirements on certificate holders," those subject to the oversight system have raised concerns that while industry's use of the portal is "voluntary," the DCT's are not optional for the safety inspectors and there is an unspoken expectation that the certificate holders complete them, especially if it means assisting the inspector in an expeditious document review.
For part 147 holders, the expansion could mean more man hours required for certification and/or FAA audits. (For example, a charter operator reported that it was asked to complete over 570 SAS questions in response to its request for an operations manual revision.) Given those realities, industry has asked the FAA to add industry representation to FAA internal SAS groups, or at the very least develop a list of stakeholders to provide feedback on how to improve the system.
While ATEC engages with regulators on these issues, the community is encouraged to review the SAS elements applicable to part 147 certificate holders, and report back concerns or comments:
SAS FS Data Collection Tools (DCTs)
DCTs applicable to part 147 certificate holders:
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.