Issues 2001

Issues 2001 Maintenance, employee shortages head agenda as NATA, PAMA meet By Lindsay M. Hitch, Assistant Editor April 2001 The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA...


NATA RECOMMENDS PART 145 SNPRM
Jim Coyne, president of NATA, recently sent a letter to Norm Mineta, secretary of transportation, requesting that the Bush Administration review the Part 145 NPRM and issue a supplemental NPRM rather than a final rule.
Coyne argues that "the proposed rule failed to consider the significant differences between large repair stations that maintain aircraft for Part 121 air carriers versus the independent maintenance providers holding a repair station certificate for maintaining and repairing piston- and turbine-engine general aviation aircraft."
PAMA is also not satisfied with the Part 145 NPRM. "Don’t just require training without a standard," says Macnair. "Not to say we would ever discourage any requirements for training, but as long as we’re at it, let’s do it right.

LACKING MORE THAN JUST PEOPLE
Doug Macnair, vice president of government and technical affairs for PAMA, says there are many reasons for the perceived shortage of aviation maintenance professionals, and that many have little to do with an insufficient labor force. A&P certificates issued by the FAA have declined significantly over the last ten years.
"When we talk shortage, people talk about money, people talk about respect, attitude, working conditions. But in reality, even if we do attract good people, we don’t really give them much of a career. We give them a good occupation," Macnair says.
In addition to focusing on training and continuing education to combat the shortage, PAMA is actively pursuing the improvement of wages and job conditions for maintenance professionals.
"PAMA has historically avoided any discussion of wages ... We are not a labor organization; we are a professional organization," Macnair says. "You can’t have a discussion about the shortage of maintenance professionals or a shortage of skills, training, and education without [wages] coming into the discussion."

ISSUE IN REVERSE
For years, flight schools focused their attention on attracting good flight support personnel. David Kennedy, government and industry affairs specialist for NATA, says they’re now faced with the opposite problem: attracting and keeping certified flight instructors. The traditional model of advancement has been shortened by regional airlines, major airlines, and fractionals hiring CFIs away with fewer hours than before. Faster advancement and increased pay are good for flight instructors but tough on flight schools.
Kennedy recently visited Flight-Safety and observed its solution to the problem. As incentive, flight instructors receive their multi-engine and instrument instructor certificates, with the understanding that they will stay and fly 800 hours with decent pay.
"Those are the ones who are going to retain folks," says Kennedy. "They’re doing what it takes to keep them there."

RETHINKING ERGONOMICS
On March 7, Congress passed a joint resolution to reverse OSHA’s Ergonomics Protection Standard. This reversal is considered a victory for many small business owners and was strongly supported by NATA.
At first glance, the ergonomics rule appears to be a positive step toward reducing and treating worksite injuries. Unfortunately, the rule covers industry too broadly and compliance would cost businesses too much money, says Peri.
The OSHA rule required training on ergonomics protection and provided "safe pay" (90 percent salary with full benefits) for those injured in repetitive motion activities. Peri says that in many companies, particularly those using production line workers, ergonomics standards need to be set. But in many industries, including aviation, the ergonomics rule would create pure overhead costs that would have to be made up by the consumer.
OSHA will not be able to issue a new rule similar to the first, and may continue to cite ergonomic injuries under its general duty clause.

GOOD NEWS IN DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING
The final rule on revisions to Part 40 means more protection for employers involved in drug test verification procedures, according to Jacque Rosser.
Employers will be able to apply to FAA for an employee stand down program that allows them to remove employees in safety-sensitive positions from service while awaiting verification on a positive test.
The employee stand down policy becomes effective August 1, 2001. To qualify, employers must submit a program proposal to the FAA outlining such things as how employees will be protected from harrassment during the waiting period.

PAMA Letter to Bush
PAMA president Brian Finnegan recently sent a letter to President Bush requesting that a Presidential Emergency Board be convened "to address U.S. air transportation needs" and "the poor overall state of the aviation maintenance industry." The letter outlines four major recommendations related to Part 147 and legal actions against technicians. A copy of the letter may be viewed at www.pama.org.

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