Tech Forum

Our esteemed colleague, John Goglia, A&P, writes in the January/February 2010 issue that he thinks “mechanics should be able to buy the specialized training they need at Part 147 schools ...” in order to help “... every financially strapped airline ...” to provide training. Wow! He calls this mandated purchase by us “... a relatively small burden” that “should result in higher earning potential in the long run.” The only higher earning potential foreseeable by this scenario is when Mr. Goglia is placed in charge of another federal program, and promoted above his $165,000/year current position. If the $200 million/year CEOs of the “financially strapped airlines” want to train their mechanics they can do it at an insignificant expense, compared to Goglia’s proposal for his own aggrandizement. And only four contorted paragraphs before that he writes: “... the gap between the technology in the aircraft and the technological training of our mechanics will continue to grow.”

So he wants us to buy, in accordance with a continuing education bureaucracy that he wants to head, training that he has just stated is obsolete! This would be a great way to further offshore all U.S. Part 121 maintenance work, as well as further nail the coffin of the U.S. general aviation industry.

Years ago I thought it was good that we finally had an A&P in the NTSB, but the evidence now shows that he’s just another fed trying to expand his own worth in a socialist administration. Once a man’s word is tarnished it’s almost impossible to get it back. He has wasted an extraordinary opportunity in the federal government to have as major a positive effect that Charles Taylor, for example, has had in our industry. We are all going to suffer for generations now that our profession has been tarred with the feathers of this bureaucrat.

True federal professionals such as Richard Dilbeck, A&P, of the Sacramento FSDO, the creator nationwide of state aviation technician days, are the type of federal professional that we’d rather have. Goglia needs to resign before he does more damage.
— Chris Young

Charles Chandler replies:
If I may hold forth for a moment. I personally do not see John Goglia as the Anti-Christ out recruiting his minions to support his evil plan. I happen to agree with the concepts John presents in his article.

In 1990 a team comprised of one major airline in this country, one major airline in Europe, Wycatt Industries, and Chicago City Colleges staff set about to solve this very knowledge and skill gap problem. The team was composed of the best managers, educators, computer scientists, and AMTs of the day.

Our plan was to develop 10 state-of-the-art A&P schools, with a curriculum focused on current and future aircraft technology that could be delivered through computer-based simulators. After two years the project was canceled. We developed the prototype curriculum, the computer-based simulators, and one A&P school at Midway airport in Chicago. We encountered push back and resistance to this concept from every quarter; in particular from internal airline managers, A&P schools, and the FAA. We had to send representatives to Washington to lobby the aviation committees and the FAA to let us use computers to deliver curriculum. Our local certifying FSDO members were more interested in the width of our classroom doors and the security of our file cabinets than the curriculum content.

After two years the economy took a down turn and the U.S. airline stopped the project and closed the fully operating A&P school. The team members from the airline were laid off in 1992. I personally walked away and left many thousands of dollars of computer-based simulator software in a file cabinet at the airline. The good news is that the European airline and some of the PhDs realized the value of all the research that had been done by this project team. The airline incorporated the maintenance simulators in its in-house training programs and passed the curriculum along to its great national Ab initio and apprenticeship programs. The PhDs presented the research as their own and I hope it helped them get tenure and enhanced their publications.

My take away from this experience is that economics rule in America. It is my opinion that independent 147 A&P schools will not make the investment in technology, curriculum, or infrastructure to close the gap between their curriculum and the current state of aircraft technology. Nor will the FAA mandate such a change.

The American military, OEMs, and airlines will continue training their staff in house. Corporate, business, and general aviation folks will close the gap piecemeal through factory and type training. A&Ps are like many other professionals in our society, they will generally not invest in continuing education unless they are guaranteed dollars in their pocket or it is a job requirement.

This gap between technology and training is a complicated and systemic problem that has plagued our industry since the end of WWII. Other countries not ruled by economics have Ab initio and apprenticeship education programs to address changes in technology. They also have very different rules regarding technical training and aircraft maintenance. In down economic times these differences are very attractive to American companies looking to trim staff and their aviation maintenance budgets.

Thanks for the soap box.

Mobile repair businesses
I was extremely tickled to read your latest offering in AMT magazine. I thought I’d drop you a line to thank you and to mention my website/business just to let you know I’m out here doing my thing along with one other mobile outfit I know of. I have been a licensed pilot and A&P for many years and owned my own Cessna 140 for 33 of those years.

Believing there was a niche market for my many years of experience in sheet metal repair on other Gen-Av planes and for United Air Lines (SFO), I bought a used step-van and started my little mobile aircraft sheet metal repair company in mid 1996, retiring from U.A., in January of 1997, after 31 years.

Now, (aged almost 69) I am still active in the business of bringing a full-service, structural repair facility to a damaged plane so it can be returned to service from its present location or made ferryable to a larger FBO for further systems work, if necessary. Whatever the owner decides.

Good job on the article, keep it up. We’re out here reading.
— Jim Barker, California

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