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.
On Aug. 5, ATEC and its sister organization, Choose Aerospace, joined AMFA, ARSA, AAR Corp., the Teamsters, the STEM Education Coalition, and the Universal Technical Institute, calling on President Biden to take specific action in support of aviation technical workforce development.
In its plea, the group cited the long-standing workforce crises that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and asked the administration to take the following actions:
(1) Increase funding for the FAA workforce grant programs
(2) Better facilitate military-to-civilian career transitions
(3) Support establishment of National Center for Advancement of Aviation (see S. 1752 and H.R. 3482)
(4) Support positive messaging about transportation careers (see S. 1681 and H.R. 3310)
The letter acts as a roadmap for the coalition's advocacy efforts moving forward, many of which align with ATEC's legislative priorities. Read the entire letter here.
A notice in today's Federal Register solicits comment on the collection of information from eligible entities by the FAA to select and oversee grant recipients, an important step towards implementation of the aviation technician workforce and pilot education grant programs created by last year’s FAA bill. The notices (there is also a notice for the pilot program) are related to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and provide an estimate of the reporting burden for grant applicants and recipients.
While the action does not formally initiate the grant programs, they suggest FAA is moving in the right direction.
However, Congress has yet to appropriate the necessary FY 2020 money FAA needs to implement the programs. As previously reported, the FY 2020 House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) bill contains full funding for both ($10 million total - $5 million each). The Senate’s T-HUD package contains partial funding ($5 total). The most recent appropriations continuing resolution expires on Dec. 20, so the next few weeks will be crucial in determining final FY 2020 spending levels.
ATEC is asking the community to continue asking Congress and FAA to fully fund and initiate these important grant programs. Advocacy resources (including our most recent coalition letter to Congress) are available on the Aeronautical Repair Station Association website at at http://arsa.org/legislative/grant-program-action-center/.
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.”
The latest Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, anticipated to formally release at the upcoming EAA AirVenture in OshKosh, projects that 769,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years. The forecast is inclusive of the commercial aviation, business aviation, and civil helicopter industries, and is up from last year's 20-year forecast of 754,000. Projected demand in North America is 193,000, up 2% from last year.
According to the report:
The demand will stem from a mix of fleet growth, retirements, and attrition. Meeting this strong demand will require a collective effort from across the global aviation industry. As several hundred thousand pilots and technicians reach retirement age over the next decade, educational outreach and career pathway programs will be essential to inspiring and recruiting the next generation of personnel...
As new generation airplanes become more prominent in the global fleet, advances in airplane technology will drive demand for a new set of skills, such as digital troubleshooting and composites repair. Concurrently, operators and MROs will be challenged to ensure technicians continue to maintain the skills and capability necessary to service the large fleet of older generation aircraft. These two skill sets often differ, creating opportunities for the industry to enhance its standard training curriculum.
Mobile and distance learning solutions are supplementing traditional classroom instruction and allow students to continue their studies outside of traditional instructor-led classes. New technologies, such as augmented and mixed reality solutions, are also being tested as a way to improve student engagement, quality of instruction, and knowledge retention. Competency-based maintenance training continues to evolve as the industry focuses on addressing individual students' needs and knowledge gaps.
The need for maintenance personnel is largest in the Asia Pacific region, which will require 266,000 new technicians. Airlines in North America will require 193,000, Europe 137,000, the Middle East 69,000, Latin America 52,000, Africa 27,000, and Russia / Central Asia 25,000.
The full forecast is available at www.boeing.com/commercial/market/pilot-technician-outlook
For a compilation of this and other notable aviation maintenance workforce reports, visit atec-amt.org/workforce
The House Appropriations Committee approved $5 million in workforce development for in FY20 for two programs that were part of the FAA Reauthorization legislation. (See latest related story.)
The FY 2020 Transportation, House and Urban Development and related agencies (T-HUD) appropriations bill (HR 3163) approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 4 includes full funding for both the technician workforce development and pilot education programs ($5 million for each).
The report for the T-HUD bill references the grant programs (on page 21) and states that, “The Committee supports increasing the strength and number of aviation professionals who are well-trained and can be relied upon to make air travel safe and efficient. To that end, the Committee provides $5,000,000 for the aviation maintenance technician development program and $5,000,000 for aviation workforce development program.”
While the appropriations bills is an important step towards getting the authorized program funded, members are encouraged to keep the pressure on with congressional leaders. The Aeronautical Repair Station Association is leading a coalition and has created an action center with more information at http://arsa.org/legislative/grant-program-action-center/.
Separate but related, the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act (H.R. 2831/S.1517) introduced last month by Reps. Mitchell, Bonamici, Thompson and Langevin and Sens. Kaine and Portman would also provide additional resources for aviation sector workforce development. The legislation authorizes $500 million per year (FY 2020 through FY 2024) for the Department of Labor to make grants to support workforce development in “targeted infrastructure industries”, including aviation. The bill is expected to be a workforce component of whatever infrastructure package might move this Congress. A press release on the bill is here.
Funding to support aviation workforce development is a top legislative priority for ATEC and will be at the forefront of our conversations at the upcoming Fly-In, taking place Sept. 10-13. Registration is open.
For more information on these and other legislative priorities, see the Legislative Tool Kit.
Fourteen trade associations submitted joint comments to the part 147 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, delivering a powerful message of unity and support for technician education.
The coalition echoed comments previously submitted by ATEC, asking the agency to reconsider prescriptive terms, and pushing for an outcomes-based approach to regulatory oversight. The group reiterated the need for a simplified approach to dual enrollment programs and deference to Department of Education requirements for matters concerning the quality of education.
"Fixing 147 is an industry imperative," the letter said. "Handicapping our schools burdens both graduates and employers. Give us the flexible and dynamic rule needed to ensure we can educate the future workforce by the best means necessary."
In addition to ATEC, the following organizations signed the letter:
Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
Aeronautical Repair Station Association
Aerospace Maintenance Council
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
Airlines for America®
Cargo Airline Association
International Air Transport Association
National Air Carrier Association
National Air Transportation Association
National Business Aviation Association
Professional Aviation Maintenance Association
Regional Airline Association
Read the joint comments here: www.regulations.gov/document?D=FAA-2015-3901-0132.
In a June 12 submission, ATEC voiced its feedback to the latest FAA rulemaking regarding aviation maintenance technician schools.
The comments, a committee-run work product that took three months and more than ten conference calls to create, push back on what the council says would create an overly-prescriptive system and stifle an already inadequate mechanic pipeline.
The submission calls for FAA deference in all matters concerning the quality of education, an element that falls squarely in the Department of Education's (ED) purview. As further explained in the comments, "Higher institutions of learning are overseen by accreditors that ensure educational outcomes are achieved through annual audits and regular oversight. The agency’s proposals duplicate—and often contradict—these accreditation requirements."
The council also reiterated it's plea for an outcomes-based approach, one that would utilize new mechanic airman certification standards as the basis for curriculum, and negate the need for the agency to micromanage schools through curriculum approvals and hour requirements.
Finally, the council offered an alternative to the satellite system proposal set forth in the supplement. It suggests a simplified approach that would allow AMTS to include "additional fixed locations" on their operations specs, consistent with processes for other air agencies. The familiar scheme would allow schools to provide content at local high schools and support dual enrollment programs, so long as the "additional fixed location" met the requirements of part 147. Indeed, as the council stated in its comments, the agency could implement this opportunity even before a formal rule change.
Read the council's comments in their entirety by clicking on the button below.
The trade association highly recommends that the community provide feedback on the recent supplemental proposal. Comments are due Monday, June 17.
To aid those efforts, the council has created two templates--one for AMTS and one for industry--to facilitate meaningful feedback.
It is important to note that submission of the "form letters" provided below do not count as a "vote" for or against the proposal. ATEC's intention is for the community to provide real-world examples that support the positions set forth in the council's comment submission.
Instructions for submitting comment:
More than forty one organizations, including ATEC, sent a letter to transportation committee leadership in both the House and the Senate, asking for full funding of a grant program created by Section 625 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-254).
The grant programs, spearheaded by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) and supported by a broad industry coalition, were created and included in the reauthorization bill to help recruit and educate the next generation of aerospace maintenance workers and pilots.
While getting the programs authorized was major victory for the coalition, its work is far from complete. The next step is to convince Congress to appropriate the money necessary to provide the grants.
The March 27 letter furthered those efforts, urging committee leadership to provide full funding for these programs through the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process.
Read the letter in its entirety by clicking here.
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.