AAR White Paper Focuses on Maintenance Technician Shortage

Search for technicians will include many non-traditional groups.

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AAR has partnered with Vincennes University and other academic institutions in the search for new technicians.AAR

Much of the industry has been focused on the 206,000 pilots a recent Boeing report says will be needed in the U.S. over the next 25 years. Not nearly as well publicized, however, is that same study calls for 189,000 aircraft maintenance technicians by 2045.

In a new white paper, AAR says the personnel shortage is front and center to the company’s operations and the reason its new Eagle Pathways effort was created. Chicagoland-based AAR specializes in aircraft MRO, supply chain and expeditionary services for government customers.

While the white paper praises the drive toward more STEM education in high schools and universities, AAR believes a huge gap exists for workers in jobs that may only demand a two-year education. The company cites openings for more than 400 technicians at its five MRO facilities in the U.S., and two repair stations in Canada.

Taking a few tactics used to encourage more cockpit crewmembers, AAR recently inaugurated a partnership with Vincennes University, one of many colleges the company has partnered with, to begin confronting the problem on several fronts. AAR introduced the EAGLE Career Pathway at schools near its five U.S. aircraft repair stations to demonstrate how students can earn portable, stackable skills leading to multiple career paths at the company. The stackable skills will enable interested students to pursue an FAA-certified airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic certificate. Other academic institutions tied to the EAGLE program include the Chicago City Colleges network, Rock Valley College, Lake Superior Colleges and Western Michigan University.

AAR said, “We’ve joined our industry peers to advocate for legislative and policy initiatives to modernize the government’s training requirements. We’ve launched a new program that creates clear career pathways to advancement, without incurring college debt. And we’re focusing recruitment efforts on military veterans and historically underrepresented groups, many of them among the 6.5 million discouraged Americans who are neither in school nor in the workforce.”

Additionally, the company said, a portion of the new technician force will be recruited from the 6.5 million working-age Americans who have given up hope of finding jobs. Others should be from among middle, high school and college-age students who favor a less expensive two-year associate's degree, or industry skills certifications to build a pathway to a good-paying job, over the high tuition and crushing debt that can accompany a four-year degree. Women could comprise another group of future workers if the industry would extend its outreach. While the percentage of female FAA-certified airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics is increasing, it remains low, at 2.4%. Historically, representation by ethnic and racial minorities has been lacking, along with the demographic data necessary to track progress. AAR hopes the EAGLE effort will help spread the word of immediately available jobs in a growing field that offers job training and, in some cases, tuition reimbursement. Potential students can read the AAR paper for additional information.