US Senators Seek to Fill Skill Gap, Aviation Maintenance Jobs

Airbus Maintenance

The proposed bill would incentivize training for maintenance workers. Photo courtesy of Airbus

Four senators from across the country and the political spectrum introduced legislation Wednesday to help close the skill gap and fill aviation maintenance jobs.

The bill, titled the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program, would allocate $5 million each year from 2019 to 2020 for grants of up to $500,000 that the FAA could award to "eligible projects to support the education and recruitment of aviation maintenance technical workers and the development of the aviation maintenance industry workforce."

Introduced by senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the idea would be to incentivize programs to train and educate aviation maintenance technicians.

"The aviation maintenance industry contributes $44 billion to our economy, but is struggling from a severe shortage of skilled workers," said Sen. Moran. "Our legislation would encourage collaboration between public and private entities to issue grants to support technical education and career development on a local level. Our aviation industry is only as strong as its workforce — incentivizing people across America to pursue technical careers in this field will help fill good-paying jobs."

Some in the aviation industry have responded.

"If there's one issue keeping our members awake at night, it's where to find the next generation of technical talent," said Christian A. Klein, EVP of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association. "This bill is an important step in the right direction."

David Seymour, an American Airlines senior VP said, "Developing an aviation maintenance workforce pilot program is essential to maintaining a pipeline of well-trained and knowledgeable aviation maintenance technicians who can sustain this vital work for our industry."

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  • Retiring in Poverty

    Nice. But this will not solve the problem. Honestly, I am sick and tired of hearing about this issue. I have heard it for over 30 years now. I heard it when the recruiter came to my parent’s home back in 1982. “There is a severe shortage of aircraft maintenance technicians. Thousands are retiring and there are no technicians to fill the void.” Now, in the year 2018, after 30 years of hands-on service to the aviation maintenance community I feel qualified to rebut this issue. It isn’t that no one has stated the problem until now. It is that nothing is being done to address the root of the issue, which is pay. You know, “money.” The great majority of aviation maintenance graduates will get jobs that pay less than their trash guy makes, less than an auto mechanic, less than a brand new grade school teacher in a small town, less than an uneducated factory worker, less than some retail store workers. In fact, even after many years of service to wealthy aircraft owners, performing critical maintenance on very expensive aircraft, many aviation technicians will still be making wages less than the employees named above. Go ahead, ask me how I know. The aircraft manufacturers certainly get their money by charging unbelievably outlandish sums of money for parts. Test equipment and parts manufacturers get plenty of cash the same way. The service centers get theirs. Pilots get theirs. Managers get theirs. It seems to me that everyone involved in the technical aspects of aviation and aviation maintenance gets their fair share (or more) of the pie — except the technician. Granted, there are exceptions and I am very well aware of them. But no aviation maintenance technician should have to suffer with low wages — ever. Fix THAT and you’ve solved the problem.

    • Patrick Butler

      spot on. That is my experience too.

  • airline mtx

    And yet regional airlines and mainline airlines dont want to truly reclassify us as skilled labor and regionals dont want to start us well into the 20/hr range with top outs closer to 40’s and mainline topping out closer to 50.
    We are responsible for the work we do from the moment our signatures hit the logbook till the component is checked again or that inspection is completed again. How many lives per flight over how many days, for how many years does that add up to? Does a doctor take responsibility for that many lives as what is flown on 1 plane in 1 day for their entire career?

    • Patrick Butler

      You got that right.