Technicians Demonstrate Knowledge, Skill and Integrity at the Aviation Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on

Feb. 9, 2023

Now in its 10th year, the Aerospace Maintenance Competition (AMC) Presented by Snap-on is back, this time in Atlanta from April 17-20, 2023, with the competition and camaraderie the AMC is known for. As the exposition continues to grow closer, both those who put on the event and the competitors themselves are getting ready to shine a bright spotlight on the competition’s three main tenets of knowledge, skill and integrity.

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An early version of the AMC was started by the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA), which included member and former National Transportation Safety Board Member John Goglia. After a few shifts between managing bodies, Goglia and fellow PAMA member Ken MacTiernan, an American Airlines maintenance technician with more than 30 years of experience, assumed command of the competition. They moved it to a new venue coinciding with the MRO Americas convention and started building the AMC into the world-class platform for maintenance professionals and students that it is today; an event that celebrates aviation maintenance technicians and demonstrates the critical role they play in an airplane’s continued operational safety.

This year’s event is expected to attract more than 80 teams from across North America, Australia and Europe. These five-person teams compete in six divisions: Commercial Aviation, General Aviation, Space, Military, MRO/OEM and School, which attracts teams from the country’s top A&P schools. Events have a 15-minute time limit and include a wide range of skills that technicians face every day on the job, including safety wiring, composite repair, electrical troubleshooting, turbine engine and others.

The competition is presented by Snap-on (, which not only supplies the tools used during the events, but also provides prizes for winning teams, including the top prize in aviation maintenance: The William F “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance. The O’Brien Award is presented to the team with the best overall winning score. That team receives the honor of displaying the 5-foot-tall trophy in their facility that year. In addition to the trophy, teams will also be vying for prizes, including tools and equipment, to use on the job, courtesy of Snap-on. 

What has made the AMC such a success through the years is its partnership with Snap-on, which shares the founders’ reverent view of technicians. Snap-on is a strong believer in the dignity of aircraft technician work and that of professionals in all skilled trades.

“What the AMC stands for is something we deeply believe in, and that’s celebrating the critical nature of these jobs,” said Bill Willetts, Vice President of Snap-on Industrial and AMC board member. “Through our partnerships with technical education institutions, we play an active role in promoting aviation careers and all skilled trades. This partnership with the AMC has moved the industry forward, and we will do our part to continue making it a success.”

Visibility for the teams competing is boosted by the competition’s cooperation with MRO Americas, North America’s largest trade show for aviation maintenance and the men and women who work and strive to guarantee the safety of the flying public.

“The MRO attracts nearly 15,000 people who are all engaged in the maintenance arena. The AMC allows them to see firsthand some of the challenges that maintainers address and the level of knowledge and skill that they bring to the table,” Goglia says.

MRO Americas credentials include admission into the AMC to encourage participants to stop by and peek behind the curtain to see how the incredible men and women in the maintenance industry keep our flights safe.

Building Knowledge

One of the tenets of the AMC is the incredible knowledge required to maintain an aircraft. The importance of knowledge on the job is perhaps best demonstrated by the teams competing in the School division. These teams are there to compete and show off their impressive understanding of the profession, and they can learn as well.

The AMC provides a venue for students to build their knowledge through the hands-on events, some of which they may not see in a classroom, but they are also able to expand their knowledge of this highly technical specialty occupation.

Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., has sent a team to the AMC for the past few years. Coaches Matt Youngs and Jake Harvey built up their arsenal of knowledge in different ways, with Youngs formerly competing at the AMC while in the military before working as an educator, and Harvey graduating from Liberty and immediately starting work as a lab technician at the school before coming on as an instructor.

“Some students come in pretty pigeon-holed in what they want to do in their career. Maybe that’s all they’ve been exposed to,” Youngs says. “They get to the AMC and they can see the whole spectrum of the industry. Almost everything the industry has to offer is under one roof.”

“There are thousands of vendors there who are willing to talk to anybody. Any area of the industry that you want to be plugged into has a representative there for you to talk to,” Harvey adds. “It’s a great networking experience, and it’s a perfect opportunity for the team to get out there and meet people in the industry.”

Demonstrating Skill

Networking and knowledge-building play a huge role in what keeps teams coming back, but the competition and its ability to highlight the critical skills of these makers and fixers in such a visible way are also important attributes of the AMC. The competitive edge, while friendly, is sharp in teams like the group from Delta Air Lines, who have their eyes squarely on the prize.

“We want to win,” said team member Peter Adzema. “The competition is at our home base, so we’re hoping to have a lot of support from Delta to give us the winning edge.”

Aircraft maintainers take pride in the incredible work that they do. Having a chance to bring that into the spotlight is an opportunity to show an audience why that work is so crucial, and the chance to win it all and give your team that confidence and validation is an incredible honor.

“The AMC is great for the aviation industry to show off our skills that are normally behind the scenes,” Adzema added.

Even teams who don’t walk away tops in their categories still have an amazing platform to showcase their ingenuity and talents in the dynamic world of aviation.

“We don’t ask for recognition, but after over 100 years of aviation, we feel that mechanics have earned the right to stand tall and let people recognize the careers of these men and women behind the scenes,” MacTiernan said.

Industry of Integrity

Ensuring that an airplane is properly maintained is a job that requires the highest level of integrity. The teams understand the responsibility to not only represent the industry, but their programs as well with members who exemplify the dignity of work. Youngs and Harvey explained that the decision for who they take depends almost equally on technical ability and character.

“We set up four events for them to simulate some of the things we’re looking for: their character, mechanical skill and how thoughtful they are in addressing each issue. From there, we convert those things into a time score to determine where they rank,” Harvey says.

“Those students who make the top 15 are whittled down to five based on all of the staff voting on who we feel will represent our values the best,” Youngs added.

MacTiernan agrees with this philosophy.

“Perfection is the minimum standard my profession strives for. You do it right, and you do it right the first time. The competition puts that on display,” he said.

Steve Staedler is a senior account executive at LePoidevin Marketing, a Brookfield, Wisconsin-based business-to-business marketing firm that specializes in the tooling and aerospace industries. Steve has been covering aeronautical maintenance for more than 13 years; is a former newspaper reporter and retired master sergeant from the U.S. Air Force Reserve, where he worked maintenance and public affairs. He can be reached at; 262-754-9550.