Building the ranks of aviation maintenance technicians (AMT) in business aviation was the center-stage topic at the opening today of the NBAA Maintenance Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Bob Hobbi of ServiceElements moderated the 45-minute-long general session that included PepsiCo director of aviation Pat Cunningham and Duncan Aviation sales manager Phil Suglia on developing the AMT pipeline and ways that corporate flight departments and Part 145 repair stations are developing and recruiting their future workforce.
At PepsiCo, Cunningham said, one effective way to recruit AMTs now and in the future is through internships, recruiting near military bases, and word of mouth, which “is still a good way to find people.” But he acknowledged that the industry needs to improve in raising awareness of AMT careers in business aviation, especially with younger generations. “A lot of young people today are not hearing about aviation as a career option,” Cunningham said. Duncan’s Suglia agreed, noting that the industry should be reaching out to high school counselors and parents of teens about the AMT profession and its opportunities. Kids aren’t considering aviation because there’s a lack of “career awareness and a negative public perception of what it is to be a mechanic,” Suglia said.
The industry also needs to do a better job of showing its passion for the profession, Hobbi said. “Do we have a good passionate answer about what we love doing?" Hobbi said. “This is the kind of thing we need to be excited about. It’s going to take all of us to really step up.”
At the morning’s general session, NBAA scholarship committee co-chairs Jim Huntoon of Satcom Direct and Scott White of Standard Aero announced the award of 42 scholarships to students and recent AMT graduates. Also, Global Jet Services CEO J.D. McHenry announced the creation of the John F. Rahilly Memorial Scholarship for Future A&P Technicians, which was awarded to W. Christopher Stanford, an AMT student at the Tulsa Technology Center.