Tech Forum

Jan. 30, 2008

It is the money
The answer lies in the perceived rate of return for all parties involved. As an avionics technician of 40 years, I have seen these same platitudes applied in every form and structure. The bottom line, for any entity, is the money and where the most can be had for the available product offered, whether it is a person’s time, talent, effort, service, or substance.

For some dynamic illustrations of compensation packages, checkout your own company’s annual report. Pay particular attention to the stock option plans and retirement packages. Also, check the entertainment industry and its sibling, the sports industry, for additional examples.

As the other industries are catching up in compensation packages, the available, and current, supply of truly talented people are being siphoned off to these industries, abetted by the techniques practiced by the aviation industry, referred to in your article. This is a truly sad and potentially dangerous practice, as it is ripe for abuse. The aspect of future dependencies of airlines on outside contractors could cause some airlines to disappear and prompt others to provide even shoddier services than we have now.

Witness the exception to the rule, American Airlines. This airline never went bankrupt, and takes in outside work. It maintains its standards “in house” and is much better for it.

P.S. I advised my children to stay out of the airline industry and they did. They, all four of them, are making, on average, twice my salary, and never worked a midnight shift. I am proud of them.

— Frederick R. Wagner

For want of an oxygen mask
After reading the Lessons Learned column in the September 2007 issue, I can understand why many maintenance folks leave the industry for a job at the local Toyota dealership.

— Stuart Spindel, Kentucky

More money
Joe, your reply as to the pay discrepancy was very good, but you failed to answer why the industry has kept certain segments at a pay disadvantage for so many years. You played the part of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, as well as anybody I have seen in my 44 years in aviation; we referred to this as tap dancing.

— Douglas Gremillion, A&P IA, Retired Lead Mechanic

Fluorescent penetrant article
Thanks for the article on FPI by James Careless in the September 2007 supplement to AMT Magazine. The first question and answer in the article caught my eye and prompted some brief research. Although fluorescent penetrants did not come into use before 1940, the use of penetrants for finding flaws was pioneered by the railway industry long before that. Highly stressed locomotive parts in particular, were often submerged in oil (for much longer periods than currently required), then wiped clean and dusted with powdered chalk (whitening). The chalk would draw the trapped oil out of flaws open to the surface and reveal the location and size of potential defects. Keep up the good work!

— John Tasseron

The engine overhaul myth
I read today the article of the engine overhaul myth (October 2007) and enjoyed the article; however, it is not completely accurate.

An FAA certificated powerplant mechanic can overhaul most engines but can not legally sign off on overhauls that involve separation or disassembly of a crankcase or crankshaft of a reciprocating engine equipped with an integral supercharger, or with other than spur-type propeller reduction gearing.
Appendix A to Part 43 — Major Alterations, Major Repairs, and Preventive Maintenance
(2) Powerplant major repairs. Repairs of the following parts of an engine and repairs of the following types, are powerplant major repairs:
(i) Separation or disassembly of a crankcase or crankshaft of a reciprocating engine equipped with an integral supercharger.
(ii) Separation or disassembly of a crankcase or crankshaft of a reciprocating engine equipped with other than spur-type propeller reduction gearing.

— Jeff Tipton

Editor’s Viewpoint
I just read your Editor’s Viewpoint regarding technician’s salaries in the September 2007 issue. When I received my A&P in 1978 we were told that jobs would open up and pay would increase when the World War II veterans retired. That never happened, so we were told the same when the Korea vets retired. That didn’t happen either. Now that my generation is approaching retirement I guess it will finally open up. But I bet not.

For the last 30 years we have been told the story of the shortage of A&Ps and how that shortage will produce a bonanza of opportunity with commensurate pay increases. Well I’m still waiting.

— Steve Anderson