The students felt the curricula could be improved by letting them accelerate through the topics that they can master quickly. They said that learning should be based on mastery of knowledge and skill rather than on number of hours in a class or a lab. Of course, competency-based training is a practice that exists in most current curricula, except prescribed aviation maintenance, training.
Comments about apprenticeships and type ratings
The students understood that certifying staff in Canada, Europe, and other non-FAA regulated countries spend more time in training and in on-the-job learning. They liked the idea of learning more, even if it took more time. They felt that additional knowledge and skill would help ensure employment and also a higher starting wage.
There were a variety of career aspirations. The range included jobs like aviation missionary work in developing countries to working on modern rotary wing aircraft for a manufacturer. Airline mechanic was not a popular choice.
The bottom line
The female and male students who spoke at the two conferences were glad to be entering a career that involves aviation maintenance. The students observed, at both conferences, that the audience was comprised of gray/no hair males that have retirement in the foreseeable future. That means that there are a lot of opportunities for properly qualified job incumbents.
The students paid close attention to the advice that aviation is a global industry and that they must consider their employment opportunities accordingly. Students listened closely as the large manufacturers talked about the looming worldwide shortage of aviation personnel. They recognized that there were many opportunities to modernize maintenance training practices but were confident the current system has them prepared for a first job.
The bright young aviation maintenance students that spoke at WATS and NBAA made the audience and this author feel that the future of aviation maintenance will be in good hands. It would serve the industry well to listen to the student opinion more often.
Dr. William Johnson has spent more than 30 years as senior executive and scientist for engineering companies specializing in technical training and human factors before joining FAA in 2004. He is also an aviation maintenance technician and has been a pilot for more than 45 years.
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