It’s back-to-school time, and the aviation maintenance industry is tackling its evolving skills needs by working to change regulations through localizing recruiting and training.
Updating an out-of-date FAA rule—Part 147—that governs maintenance-technician training is the first step. This overhaul has been attempted by disparate groups for years, but now strength in numbers is in play.
On Feb. 1, 2016, 14 aviation groups jointly critiqued the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking to amend Part 147, stating that it was outmoded and did not effectively support the industry: “Put simply, the proposal would impose 20th-century educational practices on a 21st-century industry. It maintains its predecessor’s antiquated concern with the time a student spends in a classroom seat rather than focusing on [actual skills gained]. A competency-based standard, free of defined schedules and specific hour requirements, will allow industry to transition away from seat time in favor of a structure that creates flexibility and allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of subject matter, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning.”
An FAA manager working on the rule recently told me the agency is still evaluating the comments and working diligently but cannot say when it expects to release the next version.
Now the Aviation Technician Education Council on Sept. 6-7 is hosting roundtables with industry allies and policymakers in Washington to “help aviation maintenance schools build the technical workforce of the future.” Monitor coverage on MRO-Network.com.
The strong second step involves individual companies offering evolved approaches to training. For instance:
- Iberia will start an aero-engine maintenance degree program in October, thanks to a change in a Spanish training law (see MRO20).
- Lufthansa Technik has signed 151 new trainees. The majority will train with LHT (95)—the balance will be assigned to LHT Aero Alzey (11), LHT Logistik Services (25) or N3 Engine Overhaul Services (15). As part of its electronics technician program, LHT added a program dedicated to devices and systems that will allow those 15 students enrolled in the new program to work in specialized workshops post-graduation. Women comprise 13% of the new trainees—5% higher than last year. The MRO group also opened the application process for its 2018 training programs.
- EasyJet is seeking 14 aeronautical engineering apprentices, ideally 50% of whom will be female. Of its 230 engineers on staff, 5% are women. In the UK, only 6% of registered engineers and technicians are female, according to the Women’s Engineering Society. It says this is the lowest percentage in Europe.
- London Stansted Airport and Harlow College intend to launch an on-site college at Stansted next year featuring courses that bridge technology, engineering, math and science subjects.
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Chuck Horning says more companies are contacting his aviation maintenance and science department to set up internships. “Five years ago, this was very rare, but now it’s increasing every year,” he says.
What is your company doing to be proactive?