Industry Viewpoint: Aircraft Maintenance Globalization

April 10, 2012
Europe and EASA are currently leading the way in aircraft maintenance and pilot regulatory reform.

Tis the season for another round of trade shows with more and more of these events being held overseas. There are airline shows, business aviation shows, aircraft financing and leasing shows, air law shows, shows themed on regulations ... it goes on and on. Some of these have been taking place for a while, like those in Europe and Latin America, while others are relatively new like those in China, India, the Mid-East, and the new Russia. All bring to our attention the ever-expanding global nature of our business and influences on the aviation maintenance profession.

So, let me start with a question. How many of you have attended any of these meetings? I’d venture to say, very few of you. It’s hard for you to attend events in this country, much less overseas. I know from experience few of you attend ATA or MRO expos and maybe the manager or supervisor of your operation attends the NBAA show or its maintenance symposium to be held soon in Nashville. Some of you are able to attend seminars and initial and refresher training, but that’s not the same.

What goes on at these meetings, especially overseas, is important because these events often determine the future rules and practices in your workplace. In my onion, due to the over-grown bureaucracy in our FAA, Europe and EASA are currently leading the way in aircraft maintenance and pilot regulatory reform. For instance, there is a four-year regulatory reform program that is being followed chronologically to a “T”. Another example is, I recently read EASA will be tightening its requirements on third-party maintenance contractors at approved repair stations to include training, experience, etc. This means EASA approved stations here will have to have more oversight of its contract personnel. How about drug testing and fatigue issues? Aren’t these your concerns?

What can the individual maintenance technician do to participate in this evolving competitive structure?

First, is it important for you to participate? The answer is, most definitely, yes. And for several obvious reasons - stop the jobs from flowing overseas, out of the country. Yes, a lot of this is related to less cost of doing business overseas and in Latin America, but American excellence is still a driver in aviation and business will come in a growing market. And the market is expected to grow to new heights in the foreseeable future. It is predicted that 33,500 new aircraft will be added by 2030 and that the MRO business will grow from $40B to $100B by 2032.

Another motive for your participation is to have a say in current issues like ICA and PMA. The latter has seen more OEMs restricting its information output putting competitive stress on MROs. This may limit the information you will have to work with. The former has seen EASA proactive in defining these instructions.

A voice for maintenance

Second, how do we participate? Technicians, mechanics, aircraft maintenance engineers, whatever, (personally I am growing more inclined toward the latter title as this places our guys on the same footing as our overseas competitors) need to unite as a group. This does not mean a union. As those of you know, that have been reading my writing these last couple of years, I have been on a soapbox advocating the need for an effective voice for the aircraft maintenance individual. As a single person you will not be able to do anything, but as a group of more than 50,000 licensed technicians you will have a say, and that’s for sure.

Let’s start by making sure you are included in any ARAC committee that pertains to aircraft maintenance topics. Representatives should also be sent to participate in international maintenance meetings and seminars. Finally, and not necessarily last, there needs to be a center point for providing a single, powerful voice to the media on aircraft maintenance issues. There are too few John Goglias to go around.

So lets get going. Join in and if there is no place for you to join, contact me or the magazine and I/we will attempt to find one.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author

Nick Sergi

Nick Sergi has a rich background of aviation experience. He retired as Director of Maintenance Training Services for FlightSafety after more than 34 years of service with the company. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an aviator, both fixed wing and helicopter rated.