ATEC Releases the 2023 Pipeline Report

Achieving needed growth in the certificated aviation mechanic workforce will require efforts to attract more candidates into the pipeline and creating a smoother path to certification, new research from the Aviation Technical Education Council and Oliver Wyman finds.

The latest edition of the Pipeline Report, produced annually by ATEC and, starting in 2023, in partnership with Oliver Wyman to spotlight U.S. airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic workforce trends, shows workforce growth continues to be steady but slow. FAA data show the number of certificated mechanics has grown an average of 2.3 percent per year over the past 5 years. Current estimates show that commercial aviation alone will be 31,000 mechanics short of its needs by 2031. More skilled technicians will be needed to satisfy demand in other industry segments, including business aviation and urban air mobility.

One pathway primed to help meet demand is accredited aviation maintenance technician schools (AMTS) that prepare candidates for the FAA's airframe & powerplant (A&P) tests. ATEC’s latest survey found that 67 out of every 100 new mechanics went through school. The other 16 came from military and 18 from civilian work experience.

New AMTS entrants increased by just 1.8 percent last year, the survey found. Pre-pandemic, this figure was routinely in double digits.

Women make up 2.7 percent of the mechanic workforce—a figure that is growing by just tenths of percentage points annually.

The percentage of military veterans transitioning to civilian maintenance jobs grew by double digits for the second consecutive year. While encouraging, the pool of untapped veterans with maintenance experience remains large. ATEC estimates that less than 10 percent of veterans with maintenance backgrounds are transitioning to similar civilian roles.

Survey respondents--representatives from ATMS-- cited a lack of program awareness as the primary issue keeping both candidate diversification and overall enrollment growth down. Solving this will require both local, institution-by-institution efforts combined with broader regional and national campaigns that both raise awareness and link schools directly with employers.

One effort spearheaded by ATEC, Choose Aerospace, has created a computer-assisted hybrid program designed to provide easy access to aviation maintenance curriculum. The Choose Aerospace program is expanding into communities through partnerships with school districts, municipalities, employers, and community-based organizations, developing clear pipelines and career opportunities.

Boosting the completion rate of AMTS students is another focus area. Survey respondents cited "fear of testing" as a common roadblock that prevents students from sitting for A&P exams. ATEC is working with the FAA to get progressive testing integrated into curriculum, rather than requiring candidates to wait until mandatory training is complete before taking exams.

"Getting more candidates into and through the mechanic training pipeline is the only way aerospace will have enough skilled technicians to keep aircraft flying safely and on schedule," said ATEC President and Dean of the Aviation & Manufacturing Technologies program at WSU Tech James Hall. "The latest Pipeline Report spotlights the most pressing needs facing our schools and other training pathways. ATEC along with other stakeholders are focused on capitalizing on these opportunities by developing meaningful, sustainable solutions."

The latest Pipeline Report is enhanced through collaboration of ATEC and Oliver Wyman. The two organizations combined their respective datasets to offer a more comprehensive view of the aviation technical pipeline. This partnership led to enhancements in calculations and methodologies, accounting for certain modifications in trends and findings compared to previous reports. The result is a more thorough insight into the aviation technician landscape, enhancing ATEC's ability to both understand and act on emerging trends.

Download the 2023 Pipeline Report at