A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation on May 8 to address one of the most pressing challenges facing the U.S. aviation industry: the chronic technician shortage.
The bill sponsored by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) is the House companion to Senate legislation introduced in March. It creates a new program administered by the FAA to provide grants of up to $500,000 to support aviation maintenance workforce development activities. The legislation incentivizes local collaboration by requiring that grant applications be jointly submitted by a business or labor organization, school and governmental entity.
And aviation coalition, including ATEC, sent a May 8 letter in support of the House bill.
The two independent bills now await FAA reauthorization conference negotiations, the goal is to enact the grant program via that larger funding bill.
US Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a bill to improve training programs at aviation maintenance technician schools. If enacted, the statute would require Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) promulgation of a new part 147 within six months. The regulation that governs aviation maintenance technician schools has not been significantly revised since it was re-codified into the Code of Federal Regulations in 1962.
Industry has fought long and hard for a revision to part 147, which dictates static curriculum requirements for schools teaching future aviation mechanics. Over the past decade, representatives have provided specific recommendations through a 2007 Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, proposed regulatory language in its comments to the 2015 notice of proposed rulemaking, responded to additional requests for information through submission of supplemental comments and facilitation of surveys, and participated in working groups that will improve mechanic testing standards and correlated training programs.
"While the education community will continue to lend support, and appreciates the time and effort required for well thought out and monitored rulemaking, it refuses to sit by and wait for regulatory relief while industry and our students continue to pay for outdated training regulations," said ATEC Legislative Chairman and Southern Utah University Director of Maintenance Jared Britt.
This is not the first time congress has pushed for a new rule. In the last three years, congressional representatives have sent four letters to the agency requesting a status update. "It was time we did something more than just inquire, and we are grateful that our elected leaders are taking the next step," said Britt.
An industry coalition—spearheaded by ATEC—sent a letter in support of the bill, asking Congress to support the future aviation workforce, in support of an industry constantly driving for more innovative, safer and more efficient aircraft. Signatories of the letter included:
Aeronautical Repair Station Association
Aerospace Industries Association
Aerospace Maintenance Council
Aircraft Electronics Association
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
Airlines for America
Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance
Aviation Maintenance Technician Association
Aviation Suppliers Association
Aviation Technician Education Council
Cargo Airline Association
Helicopter Association International
International Air Transport Association
Modification and Replacement Parts Association
National Air Carrier Association
National Air Transportation Association
National Business Aviation Association, Inc.
Professional Aviation Maintenance Association
Regional Airline Association
Women in Aviation International
The statute would also require that curriculum be revised and updated in coordination with emerging aviation maintenance technician airman certification standards, something an industry working group helping to develop the new standard has already recommended.
While the text has not been officially published as of the date of this post, it will soon be available at www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2792?r=6.
Senate media releases:
Washington, DC – An amendment submitted by Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Bill Keating (R-MA) to H.R.4, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization, passed the House of Representatives. It is expected that H.R. 4 will pass the House later in the week.
The Ryan-Keating Amendment would direct the FAA to lead coordinated efforts between government, educational institutions, labor organizations, and the private sector to regularly evaluate workforce priorities and ensure aviation maintenance training programs are preparing the next generation of the aviation workforce to fill the types of jobs the industry needs. According to Boeing, from now until 2036, North American commercial airlines will need over 100,000 new technicians. An example of the type of institution that is preparing new technicians to meet this urgent industry need and would benefit from the amendment is the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics - Youngstown and Warren Campus.
The Ryan-Keating Amendment also directs the U.S. Government Accountability Office to make evidence-based recommendations on how to best strengthen and expand aviation training programs by addressing public funding, equipment, and other needs.
“I am pleased that our amendment to strengthen aviation technician training was included in the FAA reauthorization bill. This legislation will be beneficial to programs across the United States, including at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics - Youngstown and Warren Campus by better preparing enrolled students to fill the jobs that are needed by the aviation industry. Public-private partnerships are critical to our long-term economic success, and this new collaboration between government, educational institutions, and the private sector will be a shining example of what we can do when we come together to transform our economy, and our communities,” said Congressman Tim Ryan.
“As the scarcity of aviation personnel becomes ever more critical, aviation maintenance educators are encouraged by the proposed Ryan-Keating Amendment, which would provide the necessary coordination among all parties impacted by this labor shortage. In order for technical schools like Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics – Youngstown branch campus to attract students into this highly specialized field which often escapes the notice of the traveling public, we must be able to provide students with the best possible educational facilities, updated equipment and technology which mirrors the aircraft systems currently in use, a means to inform youth and displaced workers about aviation careers, ample flexibility by the FAA to ensure the most current and effective course content and delivery, and funding for students in educational programs which support the future aviation workforce,” said Suzanne Markle, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics.
“There are good union jobs out there for the taking and we need to make sure our people are trained and ready to fill them,” said Congressman Keating. “Aviation maintenance is a field where we know high-skilled, well-paying jobs will be available in the near future and with aviation safety constantly evolving, programs like the ones at Cape Cod Community College need to have our full support. It is so important that Cape Cod Community College and others have spearheaded these programs with their limited resources to prepare our students for these jobs. We need to do our part to make it easier for these programs going forward so that even more can emerge around the country and so that current programs can access the information and resources they need to keep up with industry needs so our aviation maintenance program graduates are ready to hit the ground running.”
Filling Technical School Capacity; Directing Graduates To Aviation Careers Keys to Filling Growing Aviation Maintenance Technician Gap, Report Finds
JENKS, Oklahoma – Technical schools have ample capacity to help fill a widening gap between the demand for qualified maintenance employees and the number of new employees joining the industry, while increasing the number of females and guiding more newly trained candidates to aviation jobs offer two strategies for boosting the mechanic population. Those are the key takeaways from a new report examining the aviation maintenance technician (AMT) pipeline.
The report, based on data collected by Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), found that new entrants make up 2% of the AMT population annually, while 30% of the workforce is at or near retirement age. In the U.S., FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technician schools (AMTS) produce about 60% of new mechanics, with the military and on-the-job training accounting for the rest. As of mid-November, the aggregate enrollment at all AMTs was about 17,800 students, but their capacity is nearly 34,300.
“The need for new mechanics is steadily rising,” said Crystal Maguire, ATEC executive director. “Increasing enrollment should be a major focus of both the schools and the companies that rely on new mechanics to help support their operations.”
One low-hanging fruit: attracting more female candidates. The FAA airman database includes 286,000 certificated mechanics. Females make up 2.3% of the certificate mechanic workforce, up from 1.7% in 2001.
While filling the pipeline is important, results from an ATEC survey conducted as part of its research reiterates the need for aviation to retain the graduates AMTS schools produce. AMTS respondents estimate that 20% of graduates pursue careers outside of aviation, and only 60% elect to take the FAA test for mechanic certification.
AMTS and industry recognize these challenges, and are better defining career paths for students through innovative partnerships. When asked about formal cooperative agreements with employers, 87% of AMTS respondents said they had relationships with industry companies, with repair station partnerships leading the way.
“Connections between schools and employers in their regions are among the most promising tactics for developing sustainable aviation maintenance workforce-development pipelines, and ATEC continues to support them in a number of ways,” said ATEC President and Spartan College of Aeronautics & Technology Vice President of Business Development and Aviation Advisor Ryan Goertzen. “These collaborative partnerships are win-win: they help employers staff key positions, and serve as powerful recruitment tools for schools looking to boost enrollment.”
ATEC leads several grassroots efforts that connect aspiring technicians with employers. It has launched a series of networking events at its annual conference, and is supporting the Talent Solution Coalition, which connects schools and employers in specific workforce-development programs.
Other notable findings provided in the report:
Download the Pipeline Report at http://www.atec-amt.org/2017-survey.html.
About ATEC: ATEC is a partnership of aviation maintenance training schools and employers. The council is dedicated to promoting and supporting technician education through its communications, advocacy programs and networking events. To learn more, visit http://www.atec-amt.org/.
The world’s passenger aircraft fleet above 100 seats is set to more than double in the next 20 years to over 40,000 planes as traffic is set to grow at 4.4 percent per year, according to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast 2017-2036.
Over this period, increasing numbers of first time flyers, rising disposable income spent on air travel, expanding tourism, industry liberalisation, new routes and evolving airline business models are driving a need for 34,170 passenger and 730 freighter aircraft worth a combined total of US$5.3 trillion. Over 70 percent of new units are single aisle with 60 percent for growth and 40 percent for replacement of less fuel efficient aircraft.
A doubling in the commercial fleet over the next 20 years sees a need for 530,000 new pilots and 550,000 new maintenance engineers, and provides Airbus’ global services business a catalyst to grow. Airbus has expanded its global network of training locations from five to 16 in the space of three years.
Air traffic growth is highest in emerging markets such as China, India, the rest of Asia and Latin America and almost double the 3.2 percent per year growth forecast in mature markets such as North America and Western Europe. Emerging markets currently home to 6.4 billion of the world’s 7.4 billion population will account for nearly 50 percent of the world’s private consumption by 2036.
“Air travel is remarkably resilient to external shocks and doubles every 15 years,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer – Customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft. “Asia Pacific continues to be an engine for growth, with domestic China to become the world’s largest market. Disposable incomes are growing and in emerging economies the number of people taking a flight will nearly triple between now and 2036.”
Over the next 20 years Asia Pacific is set to take 41 percent of new deliveries, followed by Europe with 20 percent and North America at 16 percent. Middle class numbers will almost double to nearly five billion as wealth creation makes aviation even more accessible particularly in emerging economies where spending on air travel services is set to double.
In the twin aisle segment, such as the A330 Family, A350 XWB Family and the A380, Airbus forecasts a requirement for some 10,100 aircraft valued at US$2.9 trillion.
In the single aisle segment, such at the A320neo Family, Airbus forecasts a requirement for some 24,810 aircraft valued at US$2.4 trillion. Airlines adding capacity by upsizing to the largest single aisle, the A321, will find even more business opportunities with the A321neo thanks to its range up to 4,000nm and unbeatable fuel efficiency. In 2016, the A321 represented over 40 percent of single aisle deliveries and over 60 percent of single aisle orders.
Expanding Global Fleet Combined with Lack of Qualified Technicians Creating Labor Squeeze for Airline Industry
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Executives from the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industry are worried about an anticipated shortfall in the number of adequately trained mechanics at a time when the global airline fleet is expanding and modernizing, according to Oliver Wyman’s 2017 MRO survey titled When Growth Outpaces Capacity.
“It is a double whammy. Over the next decade a record number of maintenance technicians will retire, outpacing the total number of new mechanics entering the market,” said Brian Prentice, partner with Oliver Wyman. “At the same time, the global fleet is growing significantly. Additionally, the shortfall is expected to create expertise gaps as the industry finds itself having to service a fleet that will be almost equally divided between older and newer technology aircraft. This is one situation in the US, where the jobs are available, but the people are not.”
According to the survey, 78 percent say it is getting harder to hire mechanics and the tightening labor market is pushing them to rely on overtime and other stop-gap efforts to keep up with market demand.
The aging of the mechanic workforce and anticipated retirements could not come at a worse time for the industry, as it gears up to accommodate the larger fleet. The median age of aviation mechanics in the United States is 51 years old, nine years higher than the median age for the broader US workforce according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, relatively few millennials are looking to train as aviation mechanics. When asked why it was difficult to recruit, 51 percent of survey respondents identified wages and benefits as an obstacle.
Additional survey findings include:
“The industry is facing a variety of challenges and some can be remedied by a combination of improved efficiencies driven by new technology solutions and increased wages to attract new talent,” added Prentice. “However, this may take up to a decade to achieve, leaving the industry at a crossroads in the meantime.”
About the MRO Survey
In its second decade, Oliver Wyman surveys a range of executives from across the aviation industry cross key trends and emerging issues in the MRO sector. Sixty-three percent of this year’s respondents to the annual survey were senior executives — either in C-suite posts or vice president or above, and 85 percent were director level or above. More than half (55%) were located in North America.
About Oliver Wyman
Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 50+ cities across nearly 30 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has about 4,500 professionals around the world who help clients optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE:MMC). For more information, visit www.oliverwyman.com. Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.
A focused effort to provide clear and attractive paths from aviation technician programs to the industry would help fill the demand gap for qualified maintenance employees, new survey data reveals.
The survey, conducted by the Aviation Technician Education Council, found that 25% of all graduates from FAA-certified aviation maintenance technician schools (AMTS) do not end up pursuing aviation careers. This means that from the respondent group alone—47 of the 178 FAA-certificated AMTS—roughly 750 graduates in 2015 were lost to other industries.
Further, 40% of graduates don’t sit for the exam for the FAA airframe and powerplant (A&P) license they’ve worked to earn. While some graduates may obtain mechanic certification later, the survey results help quantify the level of workforce bleed plaguing aviation maintenance.
“The loss of qualified technicians to competing industries is a significant concern for airlines, business aviation operators, and aviation maintenance providers,” said Ryan Goertzen, President of ATEC and Chief Aviation and Academic Officer of Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. “This survey shows that there is a significant low-hanging-fruit opportunity to help bridge the gap between our industry’s schools and its employers.”
Aviation’s growth is driving demand for more technicians. Boeing’s latest workforce forecast projects that 679,000 additional technicians will be needed in the next 20 years to support the airline fleet alone. More than 110,000 of these will be needed in North America.
While there is no question that the aviation industry is facing a technician shortage, getting a handle on the issue’s scope—the first step in solving the problem—is a challenge. ATEC is leading an effort to more accurately define aviation maintenance jobs and have the updated definitions apply to government classifications. This will help quantify the number of certified technicians versus total aviation maintenance employees, for instance.
ATEC is spearheading several grassroots efforts that link aspiring technicians with employers. The association is drafting guidance to support career-pipeline programs such as dual-enrollment programs with high schools. ATEC also is holding several workforce development and employer-educator networking events at its 2017 annual conference, Apr. 1-3 in Seattle.
Among the ATEC survey’s other notable findings:
“The survey quantifies what we already know, namely that schools are reacting to the needs of company employers, notwithstanding regulatory limitations on what they can teach, and that we need to do some work to ensure students retain the interest that drew them to aviation in the first place,” said Crystal Maguire, ATEC Executive Director. “The council will therefore focus on development and cultivation of education-employer relationships to enhance curriculum, better equip schools and create career paths for future airmen.”
Out of the 178 AMTS in FAA’s database 47 provided complete responses to the survey. Of the schools that responded, 65% were public institutions (in line with the actual demographic—78% of AMTS are public schools). The AMTS community is composed mostly of smaller institutions, with 62% of survey respondents reporting fewer than 50 graduates in 2015. The average graduation rate was 70%.
For more information on the survey, see the online summary or contact ATEC.
About ATEC: ATEC is a partnership of aviation maintenance training schools and employers. The council is dedicated to promoting and supporting technician education through its communications, advocacy programs and networking events.
On Sept. 20, an aviation coalition continued its push to solve the aviation maintenance workforce crisis by helping the government to define it. The group, spearheaded by ATEC, filed comments asking the Standard Occupational Classification Policy Committee to revise aviation maintenance personnel definitions to more accurately reflect the aviation maintenance industry.
The SOC system is the source of all federal occupational statistics; it determines precisely which occupations exist and is used by government agencies to calculate and analyze wages and employment trends, supply and demand, and expected growth. The aviation maintenance industry has been stuck in a void – trapped under incorrect classifications – for years. Within the current system, nearly all aviation maintenance professionals are classified into a single occupation titled “Aircraft Mechanics and Technicians”, with a separate category for “Avionics Technicians”.
The alliance, including the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, the Aerospace Maintenance Council, Airlines for America, the Aviation Technician Education Council, the Cargo Airline Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the National Air Transportation Association, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Regional Airline Association, asked that the two categories be replaced with three occupations: certificated mechanics, certificated repairmen and non-certificated technicians. The coalition argued that classifying workers using FAA certification is the most logical and useful method; since aviation safety rules use the same definitions to dictate precisely who is allowed to perform maintenance, preventive maintenance and alteration tasks.
For AMTS, a change in the classification structure would mean more precise wage and outlook information to help recruit potential A&P mechanics. Currently, federal occupational data for Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians and Avionics Technicians does not take into consideration whether the person has an A&P license. Theoretically, a change in the structure would reflect a higher starting pay for those with a mechanic certificate (as opposed to aviation technician positions that do not hold a certificate).
Reclassification, along with other planned improvements to the Department of Labor’s analysis tools, would also positively influence the “industry outlook” for aviation mechanics, which, according to O*NET OnLine, does not include rapid growth or a large number of job openings. A “bright outlook” categorization often determines whether a career counselor will recommend a career path, making the designation extremely important for the future aviation workforce.
ATEC looks forward to working with our industry partners and government agencies to ensure the future of aviation maintenance is properly reflected as shiny and bright.
On June 4, a coalition of aviation trade associations took the first step towards solving the aviation maintenance workforce crisis by helping the government to define it. The group, spearheaded by ATEC, asked the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Policy Committee and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to revise the SOC system to more accurately reflect the aviation maintenance industry.
A broad alliance, including the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, the Aerospace Maintenance Council, Airlines for America, the Cargo Airline Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Carrier Association, the National Air Transport Association, the Regional Airline Association and a Former Member of the National Transportation Safety Board, joined ATEC in submitting comments to the SOC revision process, the results of which are set for implementation in 2018.
The SOC system provides the framework for all occupational statistics collected and disseminated by federal agencies. For federal statistical purposes, it determines precisely which occupations exist and has a significant impact on the legislators, educators, employers and job seekers who utilize that data. The aviation maintenance industry has been stuck in a void – trapped under incorrect classifications – for years. Within the current system, nearly all aviation maintenance professionals are classified into a single occupation titled “Aircraft Mechanics and Technicians.”
The group requested that this lone category be replaced with three separate occupations: certificated mechanics, certificated repairmen and non-certificated technicians. Classifying workers using FAA certification is the most logical and useful method; since aviation safety rules use the same definitions to dictate precisely who is allowed to perform maintenance, preventive maintenance and alteration tasks.
Along with a requested clarification of the “Transportation Inspectors” category, the submission proposed elimination of “Avionics Technicians” as a distinct category. These professionals should be tracked based upon certification, ATEC and its allies contend, just like every other aviation maintenance worker.
“Data empowers organizations to make sound decisions,” says Ryan Goertzen, ATEC President, “With Today's SOC structure we can't build a world class work force because the data is unreliable and inaccurate to capture our industry needs.”
ATEC surveyed all aviation maintenance technician schools (AMTS) holding an FAA part 147 certificate in order to assess key trends in the industry and gather data about both student and institutional needs in order to plan future council programs and initiatives.
The survey period closed on Jan. 16, 2015. Out of the 172 AMTS contained in the FAA certificate database, 54 responded – nearly one third of the entire population. This strong participation rate makes the survey a reliable snapshot of the AMTS community.
Take a look at that picture; view an infographic of the results by clicking the image below.
ATEC and the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) have released a new report examining the technical worker shortage facing the aviation industry. The study, Policy Solutions for a Stronger Technical Workforce, was authored by researchers at the College of William and Mary’s Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy and sheds new light on the challenges of finding, retaining and growing a world-class aviation maintenance workforce.
In the face of expanding global markets and increased demand for a highly skilled, government-certificated labor force, business must overcome the looming retirements of more experienced employees, skill gaps, regulatory limitations on training programs and – most importantly – data sources that are inadequately designed for defining the problem.
In seeking to analyze personnel, certification and education data at the regional level, the researchers encountered a familiar hurdle: frustratingly insufficient data that is often inaccurate and inconsistently captured.
Despite these limitations, as well as the unreliable reporting of national statistics, the analysis made clear that different regions of the United States face varied realities in terms of technical workforce development. As a result, the authors recommend companies and interest groups build strategic partnerships on local and regional levels between employers, educational institutions and community and government organizations.
“This report is all about defining a problem: the desperate need for more qualified, well-trained men and women to funnel into aviation careers,” said Ryan Goertzen, ATEC’s president and president of Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. “To achieve that we must figure out how to really capture what’s going on in the workforce. Incorrect data does not help anyone and masks the real problem facing our industry today: finding skilled workers.”
The regional approach taken by the researchers provides a blueprint for the aviation community to grapple with workforce challenges. “The research team took advantage of some great examples from across the industry to give us this basic roadmap for success: think globally, act locally,” said Christian A Klein, ARSA’s executive vice president. “I know that’s an old, familiar phrase, but it’s especially useful here. The only way for businesses, government and teaching institutions to solve big, daunting national workforce problems is to look in their surrounding communities and get active in a planned, strategic way.”
“We have a passion for aviation, of course, but first and foremost we have a responsibility to our students,” Goertzen continued, speaking of the aviation maintenance training schools represented by ATEC. “We know we’re giving them valuable skills and preparing them for success in a number of technical fields, but for us true success is getting our graduates employed in the aerospace industry. This report is a part of that work.”
ATEC has prepared comments to the SOC Policy Committee asking it to consider changes to aviation maintenance personnel definitions in its Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The SOC system is used to collect, calculate, and disseminate occupational data on which many statistical analyses rely (e.g., O*NET Online—the foremost resource for career exploration, the census bureau, the government accountability office).
Under the current framework nearly all aviation maintenance professionals are lumped together in one group; ATEC is asking that certificated mechanics, certificated repairman and non-certificated maintenance technicians be tracked separately so that industry may have a more accurate picture of the current labor force in order to address the looming industry-wide personnel crisis. As long as the government is working from improperly defined classifications we can’t even scratch the surface.
We’re soliciting industry feedback on the draft, before asking for signatory support on the final version. Any comments on the suggested definitions, and in particular, examples in support of the need for a revision, are much appreciated.
To review the draft, please click 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.