FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims stressed the need for collaboration and diversity as the aviation industry seeks to replenish and expand its workforce. Speaking during a Bombardier celebration in Wichita last week, Mims pointed to the announced plans from the Montreal-based company to make the site its U.S. headquarters for defense, flight testing, and MRO, saying the aerospace community “is always looking to innovate, to evolve, and to reach greater heights, and that is what is happening here today.”
Adding that the industry is “booming,” Mims said, “There’s going to be a lot of job positions to fill.” He cited the need for new pilots, air traffic controllers, airway safety specialists, aviation maintenance technicians, and safety inspectors. Mims further highlighted a need for drone pilots, cybersecurity specialists, data analysts, and social media specialists, among others. “Aerospace didn’t need all of these kinds of skills one or two decades ago, and certainly not six decades ago when Bill Lear came to Wichita.”
The FAA is working to help build a skilled and diverse workforce, he said. “When an organization has people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, they can look at things from every angle, make better decisions, innovate at greater rates, and solve problems faster.”
In January, the agency awarded $10 million in Aerospace Workforce Development education grants for pilot and aviation maintenance technicians and plans to accept applications for another round later this year, Mims said. The FAA further has worked to inspire youth in underserved and underrepresented communities through its Adopt-A-School program that introduces fourth graders to aerospace topics and concepts.
There are many avenues to spark an interest, he maintained. “For me, a high school internship started my career in transportation. For others, maybe it’s an apprenticeship, or a job fair, or the military.”
Mims stated that the aerospace community—industry, government, non-profits, and academia—should collaborate and develop creative pathways to bring more people into the industry and said he was pleased that Bombardier is hosting an open house for recruitment.