Future Shortage of Aviation Professionals
The Human Resource experts all predict that in the near future, there will be shortages of pilots, aviation maintenance technicians, aeronautical engineers, STEM graduates and the like. While many point to inadequate supplies of qualified personnel to perform these vital tasks, few are doing much more than whining.
Here are two examples of aviation organizations doing something positive to address this potential crisis.
First, the National Air Transportation Association reached out to California State Los Angeles to create the FIRST NATA College Chapter at that public university which offers Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Administration. The Association’s members include fixed base operators, charter providers, maintenance and repair organizations, flight training, airline service companies, aircraft management companies and those companies which support fractional shareholders; so the CSLA graduates would be prime targets for employment in their businesses.
College Chapter status, particularly through the local sponsor, Aeroplex/Aerolease Group, translates to special access to technical experts, the opportunity to see the real world application of their studies and networking. The Chapter experience creates a door through which to see the opportunities in the FBO, fueling, MRO, Part 135, aircraft management and other businesses within the NATA community. Given the vision and drive of NATA President and CEO Hendricks, one should expect to see more of these chapters cropping up around the country.
The second example is more regional in scope and reflective of a foreign company to become “Americanized.” Airbus Americas has created a manufacturing plant in Mobile, AL, where its first US manufactured commercial aircraft just rolled out from the company hangar. The French owned company reached out to engineering departments at the University of South Alabama and Auburn University, (USA; AU).
The Mobile located organization has linked with the two universities in a number of ways, which include, among other involvements, Airbus Americas:
- donated large airplane components to engineering departments for students and faculty members to use in their studies,
- is working with a researcher from USA who is exploring new uses for the composite materials used in aircraft construction,
- is involved with USA in establishing an Innovation Hub in Mobile, as well as a relationship through an Airbus Group University Partners Program at the University of Alabama,
- Airbus donated an elevator, a tail section of its A330 twin-engine jet airliner for use as a valuable teaching tool, under Joe Majdalani, chair of Auburn University Department of Aerospace Engineering, and
- Airbus engineers and executives have given guest lectures at the school, and the company has hired students as interns in engineering, computing and other areas.
Kristi Tucker, director of communications for Airbus Americas Inc., summarized the company’s initiative:
“Whether it’s a donation of a part, or educational partnership, we feel that we are investing in the industry’s future,” she said. “By giving students the ability to have hands-on experiences with new materials found in aviation (i.e., the parts donations), or real world experience via projects or internships, we are helping to create aviation leaders of tomorrow.”
This is the sort of investment which should benefit Airbus and all aviation businesses in the Americas.
Congratulations to NATA, Airbus Americas and all of the academic institutions cooperating to try to fill aviation’s future needs for talented, educated professionals.