The other day I was in the doctor’s office, a not uncommon event as one gets older, having this and that checked. This doctor was different for a change in that he was highly personable, answered all my questions as if I did not doubt his abilities and was not some uneducated nerd, and even took time to converse about personal issues. When I told him what I do for a living, he mentioned he has a son that is a graduate from an aircraft maintenance college in the Midwest and has been certified an A&P.
His son is also a graduate of many automotive schools and is currently making a living in automotive maintenance. The doc said that while his son preferred to work on aircraft there was just no money in it unless he had two years experience on the line. Doing what he really enjoyed would force him to start at the bottom. This is not uncommon for most young people entering the work force.
It occurred to me that perhaps this is the problem with the talent for aircraft maintenance going elsewhere, to other industries. To some degree I can understand it. We all know there is no more corporate loyalty. Working for a company 35 years as I did is not expected or planned on. What can you do for me today because I probably won’t be in your plans tomorrow even though I did a good job and had excellent reviews throughout?
The problem is maintaining an aircraft is a critical, life-supporting business. There is no room for error. Maintaining aircraft to operate properly is extremely cost sensitive; trial and error repairs do not work. To top it off the education required is not inexpensive, in most cases exceeding $20,000 for a standard curriculum, plus the ongoing training required to keep up-to-date. All of the preceding requires time, patience, and experience. If you are in the business of maintaining and repairing aircraft you cannot expect instant gratification.
As an aircraft technician you must first love your work. You must like to work with your hands and mind, analyzing and solving problems. Working in the snow and rain or on a hot tarmac does not affect the performance of the professional aircraft technician because he loves what he does.
Management that employs people with this talent and mindset needs to realize what they have … the commitment these workers have to their job and the safety of the aircraft.
Perhaps if they do they will begin organizing growth programs within their organization, not only promising better economical rewards but also other benefits that befit key workers in a company. If management does this then maybe instant gratification will not be so much of an issue and more young people with the love of airplanes and the talent for maintaining them will opt for a career as an aircraft technician.
Perhaps I am naive to think this way but there has to be answer or our industry will stop attracting the talent it needs.
As we provide workshops around the country, I have many opportunities to discuss maintenance errors and their prevention. Unfortunately, too often I find that some technicians still feel that it is up...
Be advised that working in Washington, D.C., during the summer, is like having a big hairy dog breathing on you.
Experimental and Part 91 type-certificated aircraft and engines.
My father was a big man, straight from the old sod. He was a lot smarter than I and a card-carrying survivor of the depression years.