Printed headline: The Pipeline
The Aviation Technical Education Council’s (ATEC) new Pipeline Report, a compilation of FAA statistics and survey responses from aviation technical schools, quantifies MRO workforce challenges. The report focuses on FAA mechanic certificates and educational institutions that prepare the majority of airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics for careers in aviation maintenance. Key takeaways include:
- Given looming retirements—nearly 30% of the current mechanic population is 64 and older—and a historically flat rate of new entrants, the mechanic population is projected to decrease by at least 5% in the next 15 years.
- The 171 aviation maintenance technician schools produce 60% of airframe and/or powerplant mechanics, but they are only filling half of the available seats.
- A significant portion of mechanic candidates are choosing jobs outside of aviation. Survey respondents estimate that as many as 20% of graduates are employed by a non-aviation company, and only 60% elect to take the FAA mechanic certification test.
While 285,782 individuals currently hold an FAA mechanic certificate, only 41% are accounted for in repair station, general aviation, aviation maintenance training schools or air operator rosters.
In contrast, new entrants account for a mere 2% of the population year-over-year—and according to the report, that number is trending down. Given anticipated retirements, new hires are not expected to keep pace. Therefore, the population of FAA-certificated mechanics is expected to decrease 5% by the year 2032.
Given recent Boeing, Airbus and Oliver Wyman predictions that industry will need to do more than merely replace retirees, the council is taking steps to reinforce the workforce bedrock: aviation maintenance technician school A&P programs. According to ATEC, these programs create 60% of incoming FAA mechanics; the other 40% qualify for a mechanic certificate based on military or civilian experience.
Aviation maintenance technician schools cite funding and inadequate training equipment as the most concerning threats to A&P programs. ATEC is therefore facilitating education-employer partnerships that will provide greater accessibility to equipment and better define career paths for future mechanics. The council is also the driving force behind demands for government statistical reforms that will better ensure proper allocation of state and federal funding.
The report comes amid heightened focus on the anticipated technical personnel shortfall. In November, the International Civil Aviation Organization held its inaugural Next Generation of Aviation Professionals Global Summit in Montreal. Discussions and initiatives focused on outreach to younger demographics and the need for an established “network of educational institutions to support related youth-attraction initiatives and related research and analysis on sector-wide human resources development metrics.”
Similar forums are underway in the U.S. Airlines for America recently hosted its second annual AMT Career Forum at JetBlue Airways headquarters in New York, and the Talent Solution Coalition facilitated its second event focused on creating reliable talent pipelines.
ATEC says the Pipeline Report is the jumping off point for a larger outreach campaign that will target individuals not yet in the pipeline, helping to populate empty seats at training schools and better communicate opportunities for veterans and current workforce professionals looking for upward mobility.