Recognizing the student of the year and teacher of year are two of the most important events ATEC does in highlighting the best of the best in each category.
The James Rardon Aviation Maintenance Technician Student of the Year Award, presented by ATEC in collaboration with JSfirm.com, Snap-on, and the Northrop Rice Foundation will see its 25th award winner next year recognizing outstanding achievement of a full-time aviation maintenance technician student. The award goes to a student who has made a direct impact on classmates, school or community as demonstrated through academics and actions.
In its 33rd year, The Ivan D. Livi Aviation Maintenance Educator of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievement of an aviation maintenance technology instructor either for a single event or long-term outstanding performance as an educator.
The award honors one of ATEC’s founding fathers, a man who provided leadership for the organization for more than 50 years. In his role at Northrop Rice Foundation, Livi had a passion for providing guidance to aviation and maintenance students and laid the foundation for ATEC to grow and develop into what it is today. His life - spanning nine decades - is a testament to what can be achieved through dedication, hard work and a commitment to serving others. Outstanding achievements can be based on initiative and creativity, attitude and performance, education and training and how these attributes influenced the nomination and the benefits and effects of his or her achievement.
Award recipients will receive awards including a monetary award and complimentary registration to attend the ATEC Annual Conference in Tucson where they will be recognized during the award luncheon.
The deadline to submit nominations is February 1, 2024.
The Council is currently accepting pitches for breakout presentations at the ATEC Conference in Tucson on March 17-20, 2024. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
Professionals from all segments of the aviation maintenance industry, members and non-members alike, are invited to submit a presentation abstract for consideration. The submission deadline is December 15, presenters will be selected by January 1.
Submit a proposed topic and session description to ATEC Executive Director Crystal Maguire at email@example.com.
December 5th, 2023 1:00 PM CST
Students perform better when training and testing are closely timed. Learn how to use tools like 65.80, early general testing, and certificate ratings to build FAA testing directly into your program and hear from peers who have effectively increased student performance and mechanic certification rates.
The FAA plans to expand its Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program to incorporate designated examiners, providing a much-needed expansion of access to designated examiners for aviation technician school graduates seeking certification.
An Oct. 13 letter from the FAA to ATEC confirmed that a draft revision to FAA Order 8100.15, is being reviewed internally.
"The FAA anticipates the revised order will be available for public comment this fall, and we expect to publish the final order in the first half of 2024," Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety David Boulter wrote. "After publication, the FAA will accept applications from interested organizations that qualify for this new ODA type."
Boulter's letter came in response to one from the council reiterating the move's importance and requesting a timeline (https://www.atec-amt.org/news/dme-accessibility-update-atec-pushes-expedited-oda-solution). He confirmed that the new order is both on the way and will be supported by related materials out of AVS-60, the FAA's ODA office.
"[AVS-60] is actively pursuing outreach and education opportunities and developing materials to help implement the revised order," Boulter wrote.
Access to FAA-designated examiners has long been one of the biggest hurdles keeping aviation technician school graduates from earning certification--and one of ATEC's top priorities as a result. ATEC has been pushing for a solution, urging the agency to follow through on a meeting held five years ago where it pledged to expand ODA to allow air agency certificate holders, including part 147 schools, to designate examiners.
The FAA’s Designee Management Policy is housed in Order 8000.95. Specific requirements for designated mechanic examiners (DME)—contained in the Order’s Volume 5, Chapter 2—used to mandate that DME applicants exercise the privileges of a mechanic certificate for five years in accordance with part 65 or when employed by a repair station, air carrier, or part 147 school. Revision C mandates the same five years’ experience, but allows the candidate to mix and match experience to meet the requirement.
For example, a certificated mechanic with three years’ experience at a part 145 repair station and two years’ experience at a part 121 air carrier would qualify as a designee under revision C, where previously that candidate would not have been eligible.
The change, while subtle, will hopefully present new opportunity for stakeholders seeking to increase local testing capacity.
The Order also revised the DME limitations section, striking a provision that prohibited a designee from testing an applicant “outside the authorized geographic area without specific approval.” The revision also removed language requiring authorization from a local office to administer a test not listed on the designees Certificate and Letter of Authority (CLOA), a document issued by the agency.
While ATEC applauds the edit, there is no positive net effect if local offices will not agree to add additional locations to a DME’s CLOA, since mechanic examiners are still prohibited from testing at a location if it is not listed on their CLOA.
ATEC recommends that a future revision remove specific test locations from the CLOA entirely, putting full responsibility on the DME (with FAA oversight) to ensure required equipment is present no matter the testing location. This approach would align with DPE oversight, as set forth in the Order and Notice 8900.485.
That recommendation accompanied several others recently submitted by the council, including suggestions to:
Members are encouraged to submit additional feedback and suggestions to council Leadership.
On September 20th, over 40 ATEC members, industry partners, and federal officials gathered in Alexandria, VA to discuss policy updates, legislative priorities, and aviation workforce provisions found in the current FAA reauthorization bill.
After a full day of policy discussions with the FAA and briefings on legislative initiatives, ATEC representatives headed to The Hill and held over sixty congressional meetings representing over twenty states.
The timing could not have been better as both chambers are poised for a final vote on FAA reauthorization, the bill that will set agency priorities for the next five years. Included in the draft legislative text are provisions that would aid military transition, increase funding available for the FAA workforce grant program, ensure industry involvement in further development of the FAA mechanic airman certification standards, and encourage development of early pathways to mechanic certification.
Thanks to everyone that was able to join the council for this great event. See the program and speaker presentations on the Fly-In event webpage, and plan to join us in 2024. Dates will publish soon!
This morning, ATEC Executive Director Crystal Maguire presented a briefing for part 147 programs on how they can utilize the Choose Aerospace aviation maintenance curriculum to grow enrollment of their A&P program. The webinar gave an overview of the curriculum, how and why it was created, and reviewed commonly asked questions (as set forth on our Q&A page).
If you missed the live version, you can still check out the 45-minute recorded version, below.
You can also download the slide deck here.
ATEC joined a coalition of aviation stakeholders asking for consideration of Michael Whitaker as the next FAA Administrator, and strongly urging that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the U.S. Senate move forward as soon as possible on the FAA Reauthorization bill.
“A completed FAA Reauthorization bill and a confirmed Administrator in 2023 will contribute in a substantial fashion to strengthening the agency’s efforts in advancing safety, efficiency, infrastructure, and innovation, supporting the FAA’s workforce, and enhancing the jobs and global competitiveness of the U.S. aviation industry,” said the industry group. “We stand ready to work with you on the nomination and reauthorization, and your counterparts in the House who have already passed an FAA Reauthorization bill, to achieve both these results.”
ATEC joined the following organizations as signatories on the letter:
Aeronautical Repair Station Association
Aerospace Industries Association
Aircraft Electronics Association
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Airports Council International – North America
Air Traffic Control Association
American Association of Airport Executives
Association of Flight Attendants - CWA
Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International
Aviation Technician Education Council
Cargo Airline Association
Commercial Drone Alliance
Experimental Aircraft Association
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Helicopter Association International
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Council of Air Shows
National Agricultural Aviation Association
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
National Air Transportation Association
National Association of State Aviation Officials
National Business Aviation Association
NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists
Recreational Aviation Foundation
Small UAV Coalition
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Vertical Flight Society
The Aircraft Electronics Association’s regional events provide an opportunity to learn avionics industry best practices, connect with regional shop owners, receive practical avionics training, and learn more about the latest products and services. Educators can register for the one-day event at the discounted rate of $65.
The event also offers the opportunity for registered attendees to take the Aircraft Electronics Technician (AET) test and endorsements for FREE. (Need a bit more training before you test? Check out AEA's hybrid class for individuals that want to earn their AET certification: https://aea.net/training/courses/aet/).
Use the QR code on the event flyers linked below to register. To see a schedule of events visit aea.net/regionals. For more information, email nickb@AEA.net.
September 14, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida
September 28, 2023 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
October 26, 2023 in Reno, Nevada
ATEC, along with several other STEM stakeholders, recently signed off on a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding feedback on the STEM Education Coalition’s 2018 five-year strategic plan, Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education. The plan proposes a wide range of policies to improve STEM education and bolster the competitiveness of the American workforce. The six key recommendations are as follows.
Read more here for additional detail on each recommendation.
The STEM Education Coalition is an alliance of education, business, and professional organizations nationwide that works to inform federal, state, and local decision-makers about the critical role that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education plays in enabling students to thrive, innovate, and invent and therefore support American competitiveness and domestic economic development. Coalition members believe that our nation must improve the way our students learn STEM and that the business, education, and STEM communities must work together to achieve this goal.
This morning, FAA published Notice 8900.666, announcing changes to the mechanic certification process. As of today, the mechanic test is based on the Mechanic Airman Certification Standards (previously the Practical Test Standard), and designated examiners will utilize a new system for oral and practical testing, the Mechanic Test Generator (MTG).
The Notice also announces release of a revised FAA Form 8610-2, the mechanic certificate application. The new form includes revisions to support the mechanic testing process using the ACS and adjusts the FAA signature block for authorizing mechanic applicant oral and practical testing under 65.80. Download the new form at https://www.faa.gov/forms/. (NOTE: As of today, the FAA has not published the most resent version of the form to its for database. In the interim, ATEC has made the form available here.)
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
A reduction in how much FAA knowledge test contractor PSI reimburses third-party testing centers is not resulting in significantly reduced capacity for FAA knowledge tests--at least according to the agency.
Responding to a letter sent by an industry coalition, including ATEC, the agency said the data it has "does not indicate that changes imposed by PSI have created any obstructions to FAA airman certification." Among testing centers offering FAA Airman Knowledge Tests (AKTs) before 2023, 98% continue to do so, the agency added.
Testing capacity is key to ensuring prospective mechanics have a clear path to obtaining their airframe and powerplant licenses. PSI's fee changes, effective Jan. 1, 2023, and the resulting reduction in an already narrow profit margin for third-party testing centers, threatened to reduce available capacity.
While FAA's feedback is encouraging, the issue is far from settled. ATEC will continue to monitor the AKT testing process and push for improvements to ensure testing remains as accessible as possible for prospective certified mechanics.
Transportation leaders in Congress are queuing up a host of bills over the summer legislative session, including the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill set to expire Sept. 30.
ATEC has engaged with our industry allies and provided considerable input into the legislative text, and this month, both the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction released their respective proposed language.
On June 14 the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved its version, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act (H.R. 3935), which will now go to the floor for a vote.
The Senate Commerce Committee has not passed its version of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023, but draft text was released in early June. A committee “markup” date—a key step required before the bill can advance to the Senate floor—has not been set.
Once passed through their respective bodies, the bills will go to Conference Committee to work out the differences before they are ultimately sent to the President. Thus, several steps remain before the language becomes law, and each present an opportunity to further influence national policy and support for aviation technical education.
All of ATEC’s legislative proposals are addressed in one or both versions of the bill, a testament to the council’s influence and the strong coalitions built in furtherance of workforce development initiatives. While final provisions were generally greeted with enthusiasm, ATEC will continue to push for refinements as the text progresses through the process.
Here is how each of the council’s legislative priorities are currently addressed:
ATEC members are encouraged to reach out to their respective congressional leaders to provide
necessary feedback and/or support for these initiatives as the FAA reauthorization bill makes its way through the respective committees and chambers.
While the rule has been in effect for months, the FAA's Part 147 update process officially wraps up June 13 with the publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, replacing the interim final rule issued last May.
Bureaucratic details common to rulemaking but having no effect on the regulation's contents or industry's compliance required publication of both an interim and final version. As expected, the final rule's text is unchanged from the interim version, which was issued with an additional industry comment period. The new performance-based regulation went into effect in September 2022. The council has covered its contents and their ramifications extensively here.
Among them: transition to a new Mechanic Airman Certification Standard (ACS) as the official testing standard for the mechanic test (written, oral, and practical). This happens on Aug. 1, and is the final piece in a years-long puzzle to revamp and improve Part 147. The revised ACS ensures newly trained mechanics are better prepared for current industry technology.
Other changes that the new rule brought include the FAA, for nationally accredited programs, now deferring to Department of Education accreditors in all areas concerning quality of education. This means the FAA no longer approves curriculums, methods of instructional delivery, how and where educational content is consumed, grading systems, testing schedules, or class sizes. For a deeper dive, check out ATEC's executive summary of the bill here.
A post-pandemic shortage of frontline workers, notably pilots and mechanics, has forced companies to shift business strategies. In many cases, wages are going up as a result.
Some research by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) underscores the gains that mechanics are making, at least in the big-airline world. At the beginning of 2023, 10 U.S. airlines had so-called "top-of-scale" hourly wages for mechanics of at least $50 per hour, with Southwest Airlines, whose mechanics are represented by AFMA, leading the way at nearly $59 per hour.
Of course, the top possible wage is only one part of a mechanic's contract. Another key metric is how long it takes to get there. The range for nine those top 10 carriers was eight years of service or less, with Southwest and Delta Air Lines offering the speediest paths to the top, at 5 and 6.5 years, respectively.
Add it up, and mechanics at these carriers can reasonably expect yearly annual wages of $100,000-120,000 within five to eight years. And that's before adding in often-available overtime.
Data from ATEC's most recent Pipeline Report suggest the bottom end of the wage scale is also moving in the right direction. A survey of aviation maintenance technician schools (AMTS) holding an FAA certificate used to compile some report data found an average starting hourly rate for certificated AMTS alumni at $25.49 per hour (or $53,019 annually), an increase of 12 percent over last year and nearly 20 percent over the past 2 years. "This steep increase in entry-level pay is further evidence of the growing demand for technical personnel," the council noted in the report.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median pay for all aircraft mechanics and technicians—both certificated and non-certificated—at $31.52 per hour, or $65,562 annually (per 2022 data rates).
As the figures suggest, mechanic pay ranges widely. But the bottom-line trends show it is also going up across the board. While it means higher costs for operators and repair stations, this is ultimately good news. Well-paying careers help attract candidates, and aviation needs a steady pipeline of new mechanics.
Bipartisan efforts are underway on both the House and Senate sides of Capitol Hill to broaden the eligibility of 529 plans used to pay for college.
The plans--named for the federal tax code section that covers them--were originally set up to encourage families to save money to pay for degrees from four-year universities. But Congress has expanded the list of eligible expenses, covering many trade schools, for instance. Two recently introduced, identical bills would add aviation programs to the list.
Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the Aviation Workforce Development Act in the Senate, while Mike Collins (R-Ga.) backed an identically named bill in the House. The bills would permit 529 money to pay for certain pilot and aviation technician training not already eligible for the funds.
ATEC is among some 20 industry groups that have expressed support for the bills, as they fit into the broader strategy of helping encourage more candidates to consider aviation careers. The legislation would not change anything for most aviation maintenance schools, however, as the majority of them are accredited and therefore are eligible recipients of 529 funds.
“Families use 529 plans to save for their children’s future education. But we know that our next generation of workers need options beyond traditional four-year college degrees, such as apprenticeships, trade schools, and more," said Senator Cantwell. "By allowing 529 plans to cover FAA-certified commercial pilot and aviation maintenance courses, this bill helps remove cost barriers for students considering a career path in Washington state’s thriving aviation industry."
The council will continue to urge Congress to expand workforce development initiatives through these and other bills.
On May 31, in conjunction with Choose Aerospace, ATEC hosted an outreach event in Tulsa to discuss the latest initiatives to support the new part 147, learn how the implementation is going at A&P schools in the region, and how FAA-certificated programs can partner with emerging aviation maintenance high school programs to increase enrollment. Presentation slides can be found here.
Attendees included representatives from Gordon Cooper Technology Center, Metro Technology Center, Southwest Technology Center, Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, and Tulsa Technology Center, which accounts for 5 of the 6 AMT schools in OK, as well as representatives from the FAA.
Thanks to American Airlines for hosting the event, and for providing an amazing tour of it's Tulsa maintenance base!
As Congress prepares to craft and debate the next FAA reauthorization bill, perhaps no topic will be more closely watched than workforce development.
It's no secret that a shortage of key frontline workers such as pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers is a threat to near-term industry stability and growth. This is why the council and several other industry organizations are calling on Congress to extend and expand the FAA's successful Aviation Workforce Development Programs.
Authorized by language in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, the law empowered the FAA to launch two programs--one for mechanics and one for pilots. They have been wildly successful, attracting nearly $200 million in requests for $20 million in funding distributed so far, including $10 million earlier this year.
Given the documented need to develop more certified mechanics, the council is urging Congress to allocate $50 million for the program in the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill, as recommended in the Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Report. ATEC also recommends expanding grant eligibility to include non-profit organizations, clarifying that part 147 schools are eligible for grants and that a past award grant doesn’t bar you from a future grant, and allocating funding to FAA personnel to run the program. A program to share case studies of successful grant awards is also recommended.
The council has sent information and proposed bill language to key lawmakers outlining its plan. Others joining the effort include the Aeronautical Repair Station Association and Aerospace Industries Association, which is calling for grants applicable to manufacturing jobs. A group of key senators is also onboard and has called for the program's expansion in a letter to leaders on the influential senate appropriations committee.
In the most recent round of awards, eleven organizations were given $5 million in Aviation Workforce Development Maintenance Technical Workers grants. The full list of grant awards for both the maintenance-worker and pilot-development grants and related projects is available on the FAA's website.
A subsequent round is expected to open for applications in the coming weeks; ATEC will keep its members informed on any new developments.
Women have out-numbered men since the late 1940s and make up about half the country's workforce, U.S. Census data show. But in most aviation occupations, women hold less than 20% of the jobs, and the figure has not moved much in decades.
Helping change this--and get aviation much-needed workers in key positions--was the reason Congress established the Women in Aviation Advisory Board in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act. The board's assignment: develop a set of independent recommendations to the FAA Administrator on how to encourage and support female students and aviators to pursue a career in aviation. WIAAB delivered, via a report to the FAA.
Now, some lawmakers want WIAAB to have a permanent place within the FAA. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have jointly introduced the Promoting Women in Aviation Act. The bipartisan bill would make the WIAAB a permanent body within the FAA so it can continue to provide valuable insight on best efforts to recruit, promote and retain more women in aviation.
“It is frustrating that women are still dramatically underrepresented among pilots, mechanics and other critical roles in our aviation workforce—especially at a time when we face such an acute need for more workers in this industry,” said Senator Duckworth. “As the Chair of the Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation Subcommittee, I’m proud to help introduce this legislation with Senator Peters to establish a Women in Aviation Advisory Committee so we can help expand outreach, level the playing field for women and encourage them to enter the aviation industry—strengthening the aviation workforce while helping keep the flying public safe.”
The bill "would help strengthen the aviation workforce at-large as well as address pilot shortage challenges that have especially disrupted air service in rural areas as well as maintenance technician pipeline challenges that have hurt the aviation supply chain," the senators said in a joint statement.
The council, which supports common-sense legislation that fosters aviation workforce development programs, will follow the bill's progress and keep members up to date.
The 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the aviation workforce of the future, including the current and future supply of aircraft mechanics. In a report published on May 17, 2023 (GAO-23-105571), GAO found that while the number of newly certificated mechanics grew in recent years, it could not make any concrete conclusions about the suspected shortage of aircraft mechanics.
"The supply of individuals with new mechanic certificates grew from 2017 through 2022. The total pool of mechanic certificates also increased; however, these data provide limited information about the supply of aircraft mechanics, as the number of certificate holders who have left the industry since 2017 is unknown," said the report. "Additionally, available data provide limited information on the extent of demand for aircraft mechanics."
The report went on to say that despite the lack of information, aviation stakeholders interviewed reported challenges maintaining sufficient numbers of mechanics. Those same interviewees reported increased wages--a vital metric evidencing a talent shortage--an indicator that is not yet replicated in Bureau of Labor Statistics' labor market data.
Find the full report and links to previous GAO reports on aviation maintenance workforce on ATEC's Workforce Data landing page.
One of the biggest hurdles keeping aviation technician school graduates from earning certification is access to FAA-designated examiners--and the issue is only getting more challenging.
The most recent ATEC Pipeline Report showed 40% of graduates do not take the exam necessary to receive FAA mechanic certification. That's up 10% from just a few years ago.
The issue, which remains one of the council's top regulatory priorities, is on the FAA's radar. The agency plans to expand its Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program to include delegated examiners, but progress has been slow. In early May, the council wrote to FAA Acting Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety David Boulter to reiterate the issue's importance to the aviation maintenance community--and the need to act fast.
"Five years ago, the agency called a meeting with industry stakeholders to discuss a planned expansion to the ODA program that would allow air agency certificate holders (including part 147 schools) to manage their own testing delegates, greatly expanding capacity to meet student testing demand," ATEC wrote. "Since then, industry has eagerly awaited the welcomed change; unfortunately, the policy approval process has stalled while testing capacity challenges have grown worse."
The FAA's plan is to revise the Airman Certification ODA Order (8100.15) to include examiners. But a timeline provided several years ago is slipping. ATEC's letter asks for an updated schedule and urges "expeditious expansion" of the ODA program "to include examiner delegations."
Read the full letter here.
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.