Study of Aviation Maintenance Instructors Under Way

 - September 22, 2010, 6:12 AM

Doug Larson, a graduate researcher at the University of Minnesota, is conducting a survey of maintenance technicians “to look at the experience and education of aviation maintenance instructors and see what it tells us about the job of educating maintenance technicians.” He is asking all aircraft maintenance instructors to take a 15-minute anonymous online survey.

“I am constantly looking at how to make maintenance training more effective and efficient,” he said. “Back in the early 1990s when the federal aviation regulations were, for the most part, brought into harmony with European requirements, the maintenance regulations under Part 65 were never harmonized with EASA’s Part 66. I’ve been told the NPRM proposing to do so drew more negative comments than any other NPRM in the history of the FAA’s rulemaking process. What I want to know is whether it makes sense to change our standards to be in compliance with those of the EASA.”

Larson said the two primary objections against bringing FAA maintenance training regulations in line with EASA regulations come from individual mechanics and the airline industry. “Many individual mechanics express the sentiment that the U.S. is the world leader in aviation and there’s no good reason for us to change our way of doing things,” he said.

“The other strong voice against change has been the air carriers, which have been quite vocal about not wanting to have to pay for the additional training costs that would result. The irony is if a carrier is going to operate in Europe it has to comply with EASA regulations in addition to FAA [regulations], thereby making the carrier responsible for monitoring and implementing two sets of regulations.”

Larson said initial maintenance technician training to EASA standards has more required subjects than under FAR Part 65. “For example, the FAA mandates basic math and physics but doesn’t go into much detail. The EASA goes into significant detail on both subject requirements. Another area is human factors, which the FAA requires under FAR Part 145 for repair stations but says little on the subject when it comes to training mechanics. The EASA requires a significant amount of human factors training.”

One of the most significant differences between the U.S. and EASA training requirements occurs when a student completes a formal training program.

“Under the FARs the student is qualified to become a rated mechanic, but under EASA [rules] the student must then complete one year of practical, on-the-job experience to be certified,” Larson said.

“The goal of the survey is to create a composite picture of the professionals teaching aviation maintenance while identifying any significant differences [driven by] industry segment, regulatory agency, type of training or type of organization. The results of this study are intended to provide business leaders, regulators and academics with a perspective on the state of the industry from an important population that has not been studied on this scale before.”

The survey will remain available online through October 15.