The first mechanic and the person honored by an award for which his name signifies aviation maintenance excellence was Charles E. Taylor. Without an FAA certificate, he was qualified for work on Airframe (actually the cloth which served as its surface) and Powerplant (which he designed). There have been a number of articles forewarning of a coming shortfall in the numbers of these experts at repairing and maintaining aircraft (A&P, avionics). This article indicates that another problem may be looming—need for talent other than A&P as well as insufficient Part 145 investment in the new technology.
The article cites a new survey which finds that only 20% of the MROs are investing in new technology as part of the capabilities list.
One would reasonably assume that the challenge would be found in the new materials used in the airframe and the powerplant. The article, however, points to the technical skills and support which is required for Wi-Fi installation, maintenance and repair. The MRO has to purchase the equipment needed for these tasks, to hire the Aviation Maintenance Technicians to do the work and/or to develop the skills.
There appear to be practical solutions to this issue, unlike the pilot shortage (for which there is no consensus for the best solution.) First, there is an able stable of Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools available under Part 147. Second, the community colleges are another possible source of talent. Third, the history of ab initio development by the airlines, particularly in the pilot arena, is positive. Fourth, the OEM and operator sectors have strong incentives for a robust Repair Station Industry. The manufacturers can help disseminate the necessary technology information and the airlines might assist in creating the right curriculum.
The consternation expressed in the article seems to have some reasonable responses, now that the AMT deficiencies have been pronounced.
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