Some laid-off techs are seeking work overseas. There seems to be strong growth in overseas maintenance activity, according to some observers, and there are reports of salaries over 100Gs with expenses. Not a bad deal, if you want to leave. At home, salaries vary greatly but not anything like 100Gs. Before you accept any overseas position you should examine the deal very carefully … because once you are overseas you are locked in by costs of return and other restrictions usually involving money. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s usually not true!
Look at the MROs … all mostly non-union with most paying less wages than an airline or corporate flight department, attracting new less-trained mechanics to do their work. They will be expecting to hire many laid-off technicians. All the technicians laid off so far that I know, seek jobs with more security, like with FedEx and UPS. These technicians would have more security than any other firms. Of course many technicians have gone to the government and found the best security in the FAA (jobs forever, never laid off, great pensions) and other government agencies, ICE, DEA, and various local law enforcement, and fire-rescue activities. There are still many technician maintenance opportunities in the government area. If you are still in a private enterprise maintenance activity you better have “plan B” ready for next year if not before. Remember, it’s always easier to obtain a new job while you are still employed. Pretty soon we’ll have more government employees than private enterprise … are you ready? Remember just because a company is large is no real protection … think Boeing … closing its plant in Wichita.
I have a report on MRO activities from a reader. He was in the airline maintenance field for many years and the layoffs hit him with some finality. He joined an MRO thinking it would be different. He said it’s not. In the airlines, he said, he had a union to protect him from the poor decisions of upper management related to safety. This protection allowed him to perform his job function with safety uppermost in his mind. He could do the “right thing”… as he said. He continued by saying in his opinion the rise in unlicensed and less skilled mechanics is going to lead to increased risk of accidents. (Note AMR above ... 40 percent). The increase in the number of unlicensed and less-trained mechanics is overtaking the number of those who are licensed with more training. He says this situation, if allowed to continue throughout the industry, can only lead to eventual disaster. FAA, by the way, has frequently admitted that it cannot conduct adequate surveillance on many MRO’s and other outsourced maintenance activities, especially those located overseas. They say they don’t have the staff … just look around you at the FSDOs and regional offices for example and count the staff …
What’s the future?
Some will contend that by continuing to indicate a need for technicians employers are guaranteed a continuing source of applicants at low starting pay. Some think that if there is a surplus of applicants for jobs then the salary levels will continue to be kept at a low level, acceptable to fringe and marginal maintenance activities, thus guaranteeing more profit for their work.
Yes, no doubt, there will be a greater need for technicians over the next 20 or 30 years simply because some of the people working now will be retiring. But this is nothing new, and is expected as normal attrition. However, many technicians today looking toward retirement are faced with little or no pension support or any other type of financial security. These people can only look forward to working well into their 70s in order to pay the bills.
Stephen P. Prentice is an attorney whose practice involves FAA-NTSB issues. He has an Airframe and Powerplant certificate and is an ATP rated pilot. He is a USAF veteran. Send comments to email@example.com.
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