“The FAA has introduced an aviation maintenance technical workforce development grant program aimed at recruiting students and increasing interest in aviation maintenance careers. The program is designed to support projects such as establishing new educational programs, providing scholarships or apprenticeships, supporting career outreach efforts and enhancing aviation maintenance technical education. It is funded via $5 million appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2020 to “address the projected shortages of aviation maintenance technical workers in the aviation industry.”
Congress has currently authorized the grant program through the end of fiscal year 2023. The FAA plans to release a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the program on Nov. 13, with additional NOFOs to follow annually for as long as the program is funded. The NOFO is expected to remain open for 60 days.
Grant amounts from $25,000 to $500,000 will be available for eligible groups. “The goal is to provide grants to academia and the aviation community to help prepare a more inclusive talent pool of aviation maintenance technicians, to inspire and recruit the next generation of aviation professionals,” the FAA said. The program is open for public comment until Sep. 23, 2020.”
Any time that there is an acronym which is NOT on the FAA’s list (it has more than 120 N’s in A-Z library), that’s news; so NOFO is newsworthy in and of itself.
The Aviation Workforce Development Grants program is a creation of Congress ( FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, Section 625. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, per Section 1743). The legislative intent is to provide “ grants to academia and the aviation community to help prepare a more inclusive talent pool of pilots and aviation maintenance technicians, to inspire and recruit the next generation of aviation professionals.” The NOFO establishes the parameters for the awards contemplated by §625 and §1743. Here are précis of the selection criteria:
Criterion 1 The extent to which the applicant can encourage, increase interest, recruit students, and deliver programs to a diverse population including those in economically disadvantaged geographic areas and those under-represented in the aviation maintenance field.
Criterion 2 Resources available to the applicant to carry out this project
Criterion 3 Ability to design and disseminate program information. Include a plan to provide aviation maintenance workforce development programs to a diverse population including those in economically disadvantaged geographic areas and those under-represented in the aviation maintenance field, with a continuing education component. Include a plan to attract potential participants transitioning into the field.
Criterion 4 Ability to effectively administer the proposed activities. The FAA is interested in a disciplined administrative and strategic project plan. Include an approach to efficiently control administrative expenses while effectively allocating resources between projects designed to optimize career awareness and prepare students to enter aviation maintenance careers.
This significant shortfall, months ago, was unquestioned when the bill was passed. The bill certainly appeared to be a much needed program—to address shortages of Aviation Maintenance Technicians. This view of the marketplace is exemplified by these posts:
- Positive Developments In Recruiting Of Future Aviation Maintenance/Mechanical Technicians
- ARSA Congressional Initiative To Attract Prospective AMTsTo Aviation Safety
- Aviation Maintenance Market Up& Looking To Find Future Talent
- Today’s Charles Taylors Need The Aviation Maintenance Sector To Help Develop The New Skills
- Congress Offers Bills Intended To Help On AMT Shortage
- Green’s DonationTo CCCC’s AMT Program To Stimulate Needed Mechanics
- Shortage Of Pilots & Mechanics Needs An Immediate, Aggressive & Comprehensive ResponseBy Academia, Industry & The FAA
The global aviation marketplace is reeling from the worst pandemic in memory. That exogenous has had massive impact on airlines, passengers, airports, and all in the aerospace industry. The depth and length of this trough are not yet capable of any estimation.
⇒The question is whether the decrease in the aviation activities will decrease the demand for a labor pool so as to erase the previously forecast AMT shortfall?
Evidently AAR,an independent provider of aviation services to commercial and government customers worldwide, has done the calculus and is going forward with a progressive recruitment campaign:
AAR (NYSE: AIR), a leading provider of aviation services to commercial and government operators worldwide, announces a new partnership with Corporation for Skilled Workforce (CSW) to grow and diversify the talent pool of aviation maintenance technicians and reduce future labor shortages. The initiative, powered by a grant from Lumina Foundation, will also raise awareness of lucrative aircraft repair jobs and career pathways in aviation.
Through October 2021, AAR and CSW will engage community colleges and technical training providers in strategic locations to develop competency-based programs, curriculum and stackable credentials that meet FAA Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) requirements. Next month, AAR is launching a pilot program to mentor and develop a cohort of up to 20 women in aviation maintenance at its aircraft repair facility in Miami. The initiative also will expand Skillbridge programs to provide job opportunities for military veterans and active duty personnel who are transitioning to civilian aviation maintenance careers.
The average age of an aviation maintenance technician is 54. The project expands AAR’s work under its EAGLE Career Pathways Program at seven colleges and technical training centers in the U.S. to mitigate mass retirements in the industry by diversifying the talent pool. The need for skilled technicians has slowed during the pandemic, but we are training new workers now to meet future demands as the industry recovers.
Joining the opinion that there will be a gap, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and 20 Senators sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson calling for the implementation of workforce grant programs authorized in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act.
Some statistics from Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on aviation may add to predictive models:
- International Air Transport Association on 14 April forecasted a revenue drop of $314 billion (55 percent) and a traffic drop of 48 percent in passenger count for 2020.
- Airlines are reducing the size of their fleets as a result of the downturn, and point out that this could be done either by modernizing fleets – hastening the retirement of older aircraft and maintaining planned deliveries of new, more fuel-efficient models – or by retaining older planes and reducing capital expenditure on new aircraft.
- Aircraft manufacturers:
- Airbus reduced its wing production on factories in Broughton, Filton and Bremen, and reduced working hours in the sites…Airbus delivered 122 aircraft in the first quarter, 40 fewer than in the previous year, and 60 could not be handed over due to travel restrictions. Airliner revenues were down 22% to €7.5 billion, earnings dropped by 82% to €57 million, and their adjusted EBIT was down 59% to €191 million.
- By 7 April, Boeing had indefinitely suspended production at Boeing South Carolina and Puget Sound, Washington, completely halting the assembly of its commercial aircraft. On 21 April, Boeing announced a management structure overhaul. On 27 May, it announced plans to lay off 12,000 employees, while it reported zero new orders in April 2020.
The thoughts of some of the experts:
- Global Airline IT Market Analysis & Forecast to 2025: Covid-19 – Impact on Aviation Industry / Impact on Airline IT / Current State of Airlines
- COVID-19’s impact on commercial aviation
- How COVID-19 has affected the aviation industry and its approach to risk
- Impact of COVID-19 on the Aviation Industry, 2020: Historical Market Growth Estimations, and Deviations in the Growth Rate Post-COVID-19 Pandemic – ResearchAndMarkets.com
- COVID-19 Is Already Reshaping the Global Airline Industry
The answer to the AMT shortage v. COVID impact calculus may not be known for months. AAR’s statistic (“average age of an aviation maintenance technician is 54…”) may make the pandemic impact less relevant. Part of the reason why Congress created Aviation Workplace Development Program was to make this profession more inclusive; so, all of those poised to expand the pool of AMTs, read the NOFO. If you see criteria that need improvement, you may submit your comments by September 23, 2020 here. Next, if you want to submit a bid for a grant, look for Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on www.grants.gov on or about November 13, 2020.
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