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Skills, Travel and Complexity Continue To Vex MRO Managers

Survey results of workforce challenges facing the industry--from travel hurdles to a wave of retirements.

Singularity Insight has just surveyed major OEMs, component OEMs, airlines and MROs on their challenges in obtaining qualified repair staff. The results chime with other studies of the skills gap and maintenance challenges in aviation, according to Singularity CEO Frederico Pedro.

For instance, 36% of respondents reported difficulty in recruiting qualified technicians, and 82% report a wave of retirements now or in the next five years.

One of their difficulties in ensuring prompt maintenance response times, 44% said experts were often overbooked or unavailable, 29% said a visa was often required, and 21% cited language and cultural barriers.

Moreover, travel is frequently required to support aircraft. One-third of respondents said their engineers and technicians must constantly travel locally, while one-fifth said they must constantly travel within their home nations and 14% said international travel was constantly necessary.

“At Air France Industries, they can often lose four hours because a technician from [Paris] Orly needs to go to Charles de Gaulle and return back,” Pedro notes. A technician of Zodiac Aerospace told Singularity that he was sent abroad in an emergency and wasted three days doing nothing, just waiting at a hotel, because he was not registered on the client site and could not enter. Furthermore, “a lot of time can be lost when a technician meets an unexpected situation or something he doesn’t know. They can lose several hours finding the chief expert or studying designs for 10-minutes tasks.”

In all, 80% of responses said travel represented significant outlays for transportation, lodging and meals and visa applications. And 83% said they were challenged by the complex and specialized knowledge required when techs and engineers arrived on site.

Pedro thinks these results confirm the need for aviation maintenance to make much better use of virtual and augmented reality tools in both training technicians and supporting them when they have to travel to fix complicated maintenance problems.

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