Airline Community Discusses Impending Maintenance Technician Shortage

Boeing forecasts that more than 670,000 maintenance technician will be needed by 2035.

Boeing’s 2016 Pilot and Technician Outlook precipitated the inaugural Aviation Maintenance Technician Career Forum, held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Airlines for America’s (A4A) headquarters in Washington. The outlook forecasts that more than 670,000 maintenance technician will be needed by 2035. 

Meeting this level of demand will require innovative solutions—focused on educational outreach and career pipeline programs—to inspire the next generation of technicians, the report notes. The forum provided an opportunity for A4A’s network of airline community stakeholders to exchange ideas on how to meet the coming demand.

Airlines are building the infrastructure that will create and maintain career pipelines for the next generation. Companies are forging new relationships with local educational institutions, facilitating outreach programs to interest high school and even middle school students in aviation, developing internship and apprenticeship programs, and creating recruitment tools that will reach and appeal to millennials. Forum participants discussed and shared their recruitment plans, current and anticipated partnerships with community and educational institutions, and technical career “branding” challenges.

United Airlines’ Mike Arata, past chair of A4A’s Engineering Maintenance and Materiel Council (EMMC), spearheaded the effort. He noted to forum attendees that the workforce challenge is not unique to commercial airlines. “It is incumbent on us to ensure the current trajectory of safety continues, and that requires a well-qualified workforce in every link of the chain,” Arata said. “Our maintenance contractors face even greater personnel challenges, and we look forward to including MRO representatives in future discussions. Ultimately, the best workforce solutions will come when we work together.”

Forum participants will continue the dialog through a workforce panel entitled “The Need for AMTs: Growing the Next Generation” at Aviation Week’s MRO Americas Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, April 25-27. 

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