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Fred Bruggeman · Secretary General
From the AEI Secretary General:
AEI To assist and co-operate in the worldwide effort to meet the industry demands for more technicians and engineers.
AEI has finally found industry waking up and start to recognise what has been propagated by AEI for years, that industry is not gearing up for the future growth of Aviation Worldwide.
From the various studies by the major stakeholders in industry, it has become clear that industry is facing major shortage in Technicians, Engineers and Pilots to meet the expected growth of 17000 aircrafts in the next 20 years. In addition aviation has to meet the effect of the baby boom generation to go into retirement in the next 10-15 years. Estimated figures talk of 500,000 technicians and engineers as well as more then 200,000 pilots on top of that what’s need to replace industry exits such as retiring staff.
Despite warnings (from AEI and others) aviation industry and particularly aviation maintenance has reduced its training centres, possibilities, apprenticeships and training efforts because of the repetitive short-sight-ness of maintenance management, that only had eyes for present good financial results and worked with the decision horizon of next budget.
Almost any decision that did not meet the targets of ROI (Return on Investment) within the next 2 years, was simply set aside. This is now creating a rapidly increasing problem with shortage of technicians and engineers. Where pilots could easily be trained within a 2 years time span, maintenance engineers trajectory from apprentice to full grown and certified engineers easily take 6-8 years.
AEI found it essential that we participate in this IATA process, guarding the levels and advising on the course to solutions.
We have to be sure that this shortage is not “solved” by reducing the already sometimes very short and irresponsible reduced training demands.
Present training standards (for Part 66, A&P etc) should not only be met, but in additions should be “upgraded” to meet the present demands of industry, not only for staff entering the industry but for “present staff” as well.
In some (not the least aviation areas) the present training is still set to work with old fashion aircraft while industry needs fully trained personnel to meet the needs of the Airbus A330-340-350-380; Boeing 777-787 and other sophisticated aircrafts.
The tendency of industry to reduce training with the standard phrase that aircrafts become easier to maintain maybe partially true. Many systems have Build in test systems, but the build in systems may help, but what they tell is there is a problem in a certain area, it gives an advice to replace a component counting on the fact, that wiring is ok, connectors are not corroded etc. System have become more and more complex with often internal cross connections and integration with other systems.
Poorly educated persons can replace components, proper trouble shooting of system errors takes a lot more. Aviation Industry is loosing Hundreds of Millions Euros or dollars with today’s many aircraft systems components that are simply replaced because their staff is not properly trained to do proper trouble-shoot.
Many components (some costing easily more then 100,000 Euros each) are returned from shop inspections with “no fault found” meaning they are probably replaced without being the cause of the system failure.
Management should consider that choosing for the cheapest training available in the market may sound a financially wise decision, but if they would be aware of this “no fault found” rate and the related costs, the outcome could be completely different. As we say you can train a monkey to ride a bike, you can never train it to maintain one.
We have seen aircraft type rating training (Boeing 737) for engineers ranging from 2-9 weeks for the same license. You can draw your own conclusions on the level of training provided.
In addition aviation industry slowly starts to realize they have to be attractive in working conditions, salary, careers paths etc to compete with other technical industry for the reducing amount of technically minded youth that has a negative feeling with regards working shifts, weekends, sometimes bad weather conditions. Waves of people getting fired with the slightest downturn in industry, pushes people away from the aviation industry after sometimes years of investing money in their training. To solves these problems long term plans have to be made to prevent airlines having aircraft bought and now lined up on the Tarmac, but not ready to fly due to shortage of maintenance staff.
AEI sees it as one of its major tasks for the coming decades to stand guard, defending the proper training and upgrading of the aviation maintenance staff and helping industry to overcome the before mentioned problems but “keeping up the safety levels this industry requires”.
We keep them flying, Safely
AEI Secretary General