Each year, it’s become a favorite activity of mine to celebrate the aviation professionals recognized by Aviation Technology Magazine’s NextGen 40 Under 40 Awards.
I was lucky enough to be part of 2015’s inaugural NextGen class. Since then, supporting the effort has remained a personal priority and has become more and more of an industry imperative. Finding and retaining a world-class technical workforce – adding to the ranks for the hundreds of thousands of men and women already working every day to keep us safely in flight – is the most pressing strategic challenge facing the aviation community.
Rather than re-treading the evidence and efforts related to defining the problem (though you can absolutely give me a call if you’re looking for that…I’ve got both hard data and metaphors to spare), it’s most important to celebrate the honorees’ achievements by talking about how we’re going to help them. What can we do as an aviation community to build up those who deserve it while growing more like them?
What we need is to do every single day what AMT Magazine is doing this month: show off what’s great about aviation. Whether it’s impressive people (hello NextGen honorees!), interesting challenges, advanced technology, worldwide travel opportunities, or the allure of really, really important work, there is so much in which we can take pride.
We also need to spotlight things that can improve and areas where the industry is getting better. Too many people think of aircraft maintenance as purely “dirty work.” There can be late nights, heavy lifting, demanding schedules, steep learning curves, and overbearing oversight. I’ve spoken with plenty of current and former AMTs with a sour taste for the industry…we need to do better for them.
There are a lot of things you can do to support this work, and you might already be involved in one or more of them. I’m asking you make an example of yourself.
The “good example” movement is already underway across the industry:
- The Aerospace Maintenance Competition recognizes and celebrates technicians each year at its annual event, drawing teams of student, professional, and military technicians, showcasing their talent and sitting recruiters in the front row (www.aerospacecompetition.com).
- The General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s (GAMA) workforce video series is helping repaint the image of industrial work (gama.aero/videos).
- A coalition of industry interests is launching the Choose Aerospace Campaign to build the dedication of aviation professionals into a desirable brand (www.chooseaerospace.org).
- ARSA is embarking on an effort to illustrate the possibilities in aviation maintenance and related technology by illustrating all of the paths an industry career can take. Our plan to is to build timelines showing the key points in each professional life, highlight what drives successful technicians/engineers/business professionals forward and put a human face on the work of aviation safety.
This will make an impact in a number of ways. First, it will shine a light on the opportunities available to those who are dedicated and provide good examples for younger people beginning their own journey. Second, it will give us a chance to see what is most important in propelling successful professionals along.
Think about your life and profession:
- Did you spend your childhood tinkering?
- Did your parents/aunts/uncles/guardians/friends share a passion for hands on work?
- Did you study technical subjects in school?
- Did you wind up in aviation unexpectedly or was it always your plan?
- Who helped along the way? Did you have a mentor or an inspiration?
- What have you learned that others need to know? What would you tell someone considering an aviation career or trying to stimulate growth in the industry overall?
Good or bad. I’d like to know your answers to these questions. The best part of the “good example” movement is that we can learn from frustrations just as we can from successes. Please take a minute to share with me by visiting arsa.org/qq-careers or directly either by email ([email protected]) or phone (703.739.9543 Ext. 103) and we can discuss it.
For the past five years, this magazine has done great work chronicling the maintenance community’s exciting future. Each edition of NextGen honorees is a catalog of good examples. Let’s continue that work. Let’s honor the good work of this year’s award winners by celebrating what’s done across the industry every day.
Brett Levanto is vice president of operations of Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein, P.L.C. managing firm and client communications in conjunction with regulatory and legislative policy initiatives. He provides strategic and logistical support for the Aeronautical Repair Station Association.