Wanted: Sensible Path For Military Technicians To Civil Jobs

Few things are more important to the council than helping get more prospects through the mechanic pipeline and into jobs. For lawmakers, ensuring our military veterans have ample opportunities to settle into stable, rewarding careers post-service has been a top priority for decades.

Despite these seemingly complementary priorities, ATEC's Pipeline Report shows that civil aviation is capturing less than 10 percent of veterans with at least some aviation maintenance experience.

The primary hurdle? Complex regulatory certification requirements that put undue burden on veterans with valuable experience but no clear path to civilian certification.

This is why the council and several other industry groups are calling on Congress to help construct a better path for qualified, military-trained aviation maintenance technicians to earn their FAA certifications and pursue civil aviation maintenance jobs. Often, competent, skilled technicians trained during their military service lack the breadth and scope of experience required to obtain FAA sign off to test. Those turned away from a local FAA office must enroll in an AMTS school or obtain the 18 months of experience—a bridge too far for many. Unlike military pilots, who have a certification standard designed specifically to assess qualifications required to transition to the airline pilot world, military technicians have no such streamlined pathway. As a result, many veterans take tests and pay fees as if they never spent a day learning their trade in the military, if they enter the civilian industry at all.

A coalition of industry trade groups including ATEC, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, the Aerospace Industries Association are working with lawmakers to change this. The goal: develop a concrete pathway for military technicians and codify it in upcoming FAA reauthorization legislation. Central to the plan is a competency test tailored to military technicians, and official recognition of at least 18 months of relevant military experience toward the desired rating.

The coalition in early March made an official request via a letter to key committee members on both the House and Senate sides. As reauthorization activity heats up--the current, five-year bill expires on Sept. 30--the council will keep the pressure on key lawmakers.