FAA Agrees on Path for Avionics Apprenticeship Program

The regulatory briefing at the AEA convention in Dallas also covered an ongoing FAA-led ARAC on avionics technician certification, and use of remote technology for repair station compliance and approvals. Julie Boatman

The FAA and the Aircraft Electronics Association announced on June 23 that it has accepted the association’s petition for approval of its avionics repair apprenticeship program, and that completion of the program satisfies the requirements for issuance of an avionics repairman certificate. The program validates the way that many new avionics repair technicians come into the industry, through working with a licensed repair station to gain their certification.

“I came up the same way—I had a repairman certificate, I had to work for months to get that. And I never had an airframe and powerplant license, frankly, until I came into the FAA,” said Jackie Black, manager of the FAA’s Aircraft Maintenance Division, AFS-300, in a discussion of the new apprentice program at the AEA convention in Dallas, Texas, on June 23. “I never needed it—just like many of you. If you’re truly just an avionics [repair technician] a lot of you work in repair stations and you don’t have an A&P and it’s kind of silly to pressure people into getting that.”

“After careful review of the AEA avionics technician apprenticeship program, we find that this program will assess the competencies of the avionics technician,” wrote Black in a June 16, 2021, letter to the AEA. “We agree that successful completion of this program will meet the intent of the regulation stated in 14 CFR section 65.101 (a)(5)(ii) for the issuance of a repairman’s certificate.”

Ric Peri, vice president of government and industry affairs for AEA, added the following to the discussion at the show: “So this is a big issue for us. We’ve been working on workforce development for ten years…well, since we started. And for those of you who remember, we’ve been working with the Department of Labor on the apprenticeship program—that was starting four or five years ago. It was a Department of Labor-approved apprentice program. Well, we [had] one piece left, and that was with the FAA. I petitioned the FAA for an acceptable means of compliance to support your repair station application. So, the students, the apprentices who can complete the apprentice program are automatically eligible for a repairman certificate.”

The apprenticeship program was first created in cooperation with the Urban Institute, founded in 1968 in Washington, DC—a non-profit research organization working issues in concert with industry to solve future workforce concerns.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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