An aviation maintenance work force crisis is looming. Business leaders are already reporting difficulty filling vacant positions even as they brace for the possibility of a million new openings over the next decade. Repair stations will have to find and grow new talent in order to meet current demand and survive in a rapidly expanding market — only 5 percent of the aviation maintenance population is under 30 and thousands of baby boomers become eligible to retire every day.
The entire industry must be actively involved to ensure a steady stream of future aviators. Tell the story: aviation maintenance is an innovative, dynamic, prestigious industry that provides high-paying careers with potential for limitless growth. Technicians, specialists, and repairmen enjoy more than competitive pay and interesting work; they guarantee the safety of the flying public worldwide.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is soliciting industry input on draft Advisory Circular (AC) 65-30B entitled “Overview of the Aviation Maintenance Profession.” Help the agency highlight the industry, introduce those who do its work, and describe what is needed to ensure its future. The draft AC provides information and statistics regarding careers in aviation maintenance, including employer prospects, industry outlooks, certification requirements, and application procedures. The draft revises military occupation codes for those wishing to credit military aviation maintenance experience toward FAA mechanic certification.
While industry applauds the agency for initiating the change, the draft leaves much room for improvement. Woefully missing from the update are many present-day realities and resources that have come into existence since the AC’s original publication in 2001.
Commenting on the draft AC is one way for individual mechanics to “participate” in the regulatory process and help ensure sustained industry growth. Other opportunities include reaching out to your local schools, getting involved in the area chamber of commerce, or meeting with your congressional leaders. Find ways to engage and encourage action to promote your industry; as they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Editor’s Note: As of the date this article was compiled, the comment period for AC 65-30 was set to close on Sept. 10. The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) joined the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and AMTSociety requesting and received an extension for comment until Dec. 10, 2014. Confirm the deadline for comment submission at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/draft_docs/afs_ac/.
Crystal Maguire is ARSA’s Vice President of Operations and serves as managing associate for Obadal, Filler, MacLeod, & Klein. She advises clients in matters of aviation regulation and government affairs and carries a variety of operational responsibilities, including business management for the Aviation Technician Education Council. Ms. Maguire has been with the firm since 2004. For more information visit www.arsa.org.