Aviation Industry Short on Qualified Maintenance Technicians

 - February 25, 2015, 10:26 AM
A newly released report commissioned by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) and Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) confirmed what MROs have been saying for several years: the pool of skilled aviation maintenance technicians is drying up and not enough students are entering the system. (Photo: Chad Trautvetter/AIN)

The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) and the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) are confirming what MROs have been saying for several years: the pool of skilled aviation maintenance technicians is drying up and not enough students are entering the system. “Policy Solutions for a Stronger Technical Workforce,” a newly released report commissioned by ARSA and ATEC and developed by researchers at the College of William and Mary’s Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy, examines the technical worker shortage facing the aviation industry and sheds new light on the challenges of finding, retaining and expanding an aviation maintenance workforce.

Brett Levanto, director of operations for Obadal, Filler, MacLeod and Klein, the firm that manages both ATEC and ARSA, said those working in the industry see evidence of a looming crisis in the workforce every day.

“It’s baffling that big studies from trustworthy groups—the GAO comes to mind—are unable to find evidence that there’s anything wrong. This report is a step in the process of rooting out those underlying problems, helping us to target and improve bad data and really wrap our arms around what’s going on. When we get to that point, when we have a clearly defined burning platform, that’s when we’ll be ready to save the aviation maintenance workforce. We will get there,” Levanto told AIN.

Despite the limitations, as well as the unreliable reporting of national statistics, the analysis makes it clear that different regions of the U.S. face varied realities in terms of technical workforce development. As a result, the authors recommend companies and interest groups build strategic partnerships with employers, educational institutions and community and government organizations on local and regional levels.

The researchers' regional approach 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 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.”


I think and this is just my opinion after working as an A&P for fourty plus years off and on in general aviation, until the FAA or courts or congress passes a law that limits our liability to only what we actually worked on and only until the next inspection . It is going to really hard to justify spending ungodly amounts of cash for an education so you can get an A&P rating and still have to be held liable for really old tired airplanes years and years after we worked on them. Only be paid less an hour than most auto mechanics with no training at all. Also the GI bill when it ended after Viet Nam caused many A&P schools to close down. I am not sure if the newer veterans have a GI bill available for this kind of training or not currently. When I went to school about 90% of the students were veterans. The liablity issue though is probably the biggest drawback to new mechanics, nobody wants to be responsible for normal wear and tear and fatigue that is slowly overtaking the fleet. It is okay to be responsible for your work but having to be responsible for the whole aircraft even though you only may have worked on one small part is totally stupid.

From what I've seen and experienced there are plenty of mechanics hitting the field and looking for work; the problem is nobody wants to hire them! These companies want people with 3-10 years experience on a certain type of aircraft because companies now a days don't want to spend the money to train technicians. Also, I see alot of older more marketable mechanics doing really crappy maintenence. It's rediculous but that's what companies want to hire. It's no wonder new mechanics want to leave the field and do something else. There isn't money to be made and nobody wants to give them a job even though there's an opening!

I have heard this doom and gloom story of the big shortage of A&P's for over 30 plus years. It was a key note speech at my graduation in 1978. Well guess what it has not happened yet. I see many experienced techs out of work even today. Its always tough to find a good job in aviation. Major aviation company's have dumped many workers recently onto the street. You will always see the adds for jobs from the same sweat shops over and over 15 years experience required for 12 bucks an hour or contract work. Many have departed the aviation field for poor pay and crappy hours. There is a good reason nobody else is jumping on your band wagon. Its all pure fiction.

This issue is starting to sound like the alleged pilot shortage. All it takes is money. Until the pay starts reflecting the responsibility that is involved, people will go elsewhere for work. Looks like aviation has lost its "glamour" and now it has to compete with any other vocation or career for people. As long as the current aviation management keeps the same attitudes about their employees, eventually that attitude will result in running those airlines/companies right into the ground.