Rethinking Basic Training

Rethinking Basic Training

By Lonnie Williams

Lonnie WilliamsFor most aircraft technicians, a typical workday can be anything but predictable. Whether they're readying a plane for a last-minute flight, working an unscheduled maintenance job or tackling a seemingly unsolvable mechanical problem, they must be skilled in multiple disciplines to ensure an aircraft's overall airworthiness. I'm sure this sounds familiar to most of you reading this article. How many of these situations have you seen today? And, more importantly, how prepared are you?

A well-known aviation group has taken a step forward in helping the business aviation community keep a well-trained technician work force in place. The National Business Aviation Association, more commonly known as the NBAA, has published its Guidelines for Aviation Maintenance Training. Chief among their stated objectives is the ability to:

  • Place emphasis on troubleshooting and the operational impact of that troubleshooting.
  • Instruct on the usage and requirements of the FAR's and JAR's regarding airworthiness.
  • To create a mindset of safety using maintenance and operating manuals, proper training, and experience to reduce the risk of damage or injuries.

It is going to take a combined effort and commitment on the part of all training providers, OEMs, and the NBAA to implement and sustain the effort to abide by the new guidelines. Feedback to the NBAA staff and its maintenance committee from technicians, OEMs, and training providers will be crucial to success. As I see it (and I don't have the crystal ball) some course "reweighing" is in order to bring curriculums in-line with the guidelines for in-production aircraft. For example, classes should be restructured to devote twice as much time to troubleshooting training with increased class time focused on how to use the manufacturer's data. In the next few years I suspect any currently offered maintenance training would not remain unchanged. Courses will include expanding coverage of certain aircraft systems, emphasizing electronic and avionics fundamentals focusing on decision-making skills, along with continuing ancillary instruction in necessary soft skills such as human factors.

Obviously with my close ties to the training industry, I have it on good authority that some of these realignments have already taken place to help technicians mold and develop their individual potential and critical thinking skills - tools in tune with today's demands. In keeping with the intent of the guidelines, a career-cycle modularized approach to training will emerge for the individual technician - a kind of beginner to expert culture with each course designed to build upon previous programs.

With all these expected changes, training providers can't overlook the basic core competencies and skill sets needed to perform day-to-day aircraft maintenance. Training providers will have to find innovative ways to hone both individual and instructor specialized skills while ensuring the basics are still covered!

With new directions on maintenance training coming at a fast pace, training providers will have to emphasize their maintenance training standards resources. This will be the group within each training organization that interacts with the NBAA training committee, learning center instructors, technicians, and OEMs ensuring training decisions made are both practical and objective when adding, amending, or changing curriculums. If all goes well we can truly build technical skills to meet every need! AMT

Lonnie Williams is a corporate training counselor for FlightSafety International and manager of maintenance training plans for FSI Training Solutions. He has more than 30 years' experience in aircraft maintenance training, marketing, and management. He holds an A&P certificate and is a past president of PAMA's Fort Worth, TX, chapter.

In keeping with the intent of the guidelines, a career-cycle modularized approach to training will emerge for the individual technician - a kind of beginner to expert culture with each course designed to build upon previous programs.

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