Keeping Up to the Task
Maintenance training enhances knowledge, professionalism, and safety
By Richard Mileham
People who perform aircraft maintenance are unique, though they share many activities with other maintenance workers. While all maintenance workers learn their job skills through a combination of education, formal training, on-the-job training and self-study, aircraft maintenance training has a special focus and unique challenges; due to stringent safety, airworthiness, and quality requirements; complex equipment with sophisticated systems; and a wide range of working conditions.
Maintenance technicians receiving initial or
recurrent training have led to the following:
Reduction in workloads
Reduction in warranty returns
Reduction in product turn times
Reduction in mechanical failures
Reduction in delays and down time
Reduction in human errors
Reduction in enforcement actions
Reduction in accidents and incidents
Reduction in repeated discrepancies
Increased job performance
Increased motivation and morale
Enhanced troubleshooting techniques
How are aircraft maintenance technicians able to acquire the appropriate training for the task he or she might need to maintain, analyze, repair, inspect, test, and certify the aircraft and its systems? Challenges facing today's technicians include constantly changing technology, aging aircraft, numerous makes and models of aircraft, as well as the shortage of technicians. To train or not to train becomes an issue with managers and technicians alike. Many companies in the aviation industry look at maintenance training as an added expense and a loss of revenue during the time the technician might be away at training. However, pilot training is considered as required to continue the operation of the aircraft and to generate revenue.
How do we convince companies that training of the maintenance technician or repairman is justifiable and is a prime contributor to the overall profits of the company and the safety operation? How do we measure the benefits of a trained workforce in relationship to a non-trained work force?
Recent participation by companies in the FAA's Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards Program has revealed that benefits and results can be measured.
Cheryl Theis, QA Training Engineer for Hamilton Sundstrand Aerospace in Rockford, IL states, ÒAs the Training Coordinator for Repair Services, I have seen direct results from the training that has occurred from implementing the Aviation Maintenance Technician Award Program. Before the FAA training, the majority of our employees never had the opportunity to be exposed to FAR Part 145, customer requirements, and documentation and responsibility procedures. By covering this material, our employees know how these regulations directly affect their job.
We have seen better turnaround times in the cells. This can be contributed to employees being cross-trained and given additional job skills training. New employees are given the necessary knowledge before they start working on the unit and become productive in a shorter amount of time. With training being the responsibility of everyone, several new subjects are under development due to employees suggestions. This increases participation and communication between our shop personnel and management.
Overall, I feel the awards program only adds to our program. The awards program is a way to recognize those employees who have put forth the extra effort to better themselves and the quality of work they produce. It shows how the FAA is supporting and recognizing the training of our employees who are participating in order to become better maintenance technicians."
Ms. Theis' comments reflect the positive and productive impacts that training and participation in the Aviation Maintenance Awards Program have had for the company and its employees. She provides a number of reasons for employers and companies to participate in maintenance training and get involved with the Award's Program with the main intent being to have a well-trained work force to maintain the aircraft fleet to the highest level of safety.