I recently had the opportunity to tour a new aircraft maintenance school. The classrooms were stocked with the latest chairs, tables, and whiteboards, waiting for their new students. The library still had some gaps on the shelves, but it was off to a good start.
When we walked back to the “hangar” where all the hands-on training takes place, they had a small stock of engines, a couple of GA aircraft, and a helicopter, and other miscellaneous training stations (sheet metal, welding, electronics, etc.). As much as they could to train their students in an overview of what it will be like, in the real world, working on aircraft. Many of the training benches were made at the school and most of the other equipment was several decades old.
What struck me most about the equipment is, very little of it was anything remotely like what these students would be expected to work on in the real world, once they graduated. It is a real shame that many of our schools that are training our aviation future don’t have access to the proper equipment and current technology to train their students.
I’m certain that all of us who read this publication are hooked on this aviation business, living every day with the thrill of making something fly.
But the problem is, none of us are getting any younger and the pipeline for our replacements is dwindling to a fast drip. While aviation and a job in our field might not be as sexy as it was in the old days, and the military continues to cut back on aviation-related positions, it’s up to us to build up the enthusiasm and excitement in the kids of today. We need to share our knowledge and excitement, while looking for ways to help shape the maintenance technician of the future.
Think about it - one conversation you share with a young person might sway them to consider a career in the maintenance field. Can you help to create the next Charles Taylor or Richard Branson?
We need to help these schools by getting them the tools they need to teach - are there some unused engines, aircraft, or helicopter parts where you work that could be donated and benefit your local maintenance school? What about those aviation books on your shelves? Would some eager, young mind be inspired by reading them?
Remember the days when you first became fascinated with things that fly, starting school, training, and learning how everything worked? Let’s do what we can to pass that on to the next generation, to not only refresh our personal excitement for the business, but to also pass that spark on to the next generation to fire up that pipeline!
Karen Berg, associate publisher of Aircraft Maintenance Technology, is a 27-year veteran in the aviation industry. She held leadership positions at Northwest Airlines before joining KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in the Netherlands. In recent years, she served as VP Sales North America for Air France Industries and KLM Engineering & Maintenance.
The Celebrate Freedom Foundation members brought the educational outreach program along with "Annie" to UCHS Friday morning. Annie is a restored AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter.