Mechanic shortage worse than pilot shortage

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by FPK1, Jul 16, 2022.

  1. jbehler

    jbehler Pre-Flight

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    Well, on an hourly basis aircraft maintenance really isn't expensive when compared to cars. In fact I've owned a car in which I paid more for the oil change than you would in a 172. The challenge is that there is much more maintenance required. Cars don't require annual inspections and have powertrains that are mostly controlled by computers so don't need adjusted like our planes to make sure mag timing is good, oil pressure and MAP are in spec, etc.
     
  2. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pattern Altitude

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    Because labor is just one of the costs associated with operating a business. Facilities and equipment, insurance, accounting, payroll, legal, it all adds up. As volume decreases, fixed costs are amortized across a smaller base of revenue.

    There is an A&P/IA in my area who moonlights out of a van and does the work in your hangar. He can charge a reasonable price because his overhead is low. IMO that is probably the way of the future for GA.
     
  3. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pattern Altitude

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    Yeah but you could also take that same car to Jiffy Lube and get an oil change for $50. You were paying for a mini-annual by the dealer.
     
  4. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    It's sort of an interesting Economics problem. In theory a large GA shop could spread the overhead across 25 or 50 mechanics and their volume, but you never see those "Superstore" shops. I think of a 5-mech shop as pretty good sized. I wonder why they can't capture more market share at the high end? I think they could get enough economy of scale to actually lower prices and keep hoovering up business. (or, pocket the difference I suppose, lol)

    I'm thinking one of the really heavy GA airports (Van Nuys, San Carlos/Palo Alto, PDK, SDL or DVT?) could muster up something like that. Man I'd hate to think of the variability of keeping a fleet of A&Ps busy.. but in theory it could be done.

    Someone should make the $10MM gamble or so. :D
     
  5. jbehler

    jbehler Pre-Flight

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    Maybe in the mid-term but unless the money is as good or better than similar trades we'll continue to see fewer and fewer A&Ps.
     
  6. jbehler

    jbehler Pre-Flight

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    $50 is probably low given the amount and type of oil that was required, but to your point I could have had an indy shop do it for maybe $100.
     
  7. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    It would depend on your point of view. The insurance market for roving A&Ps has gone in the other direction. When I retired, the number of underwriters willing to write a non-domiciled freelance mechanic policy were down to 2 entities. I paid for coverage I could never claim on as they only sold me hangar-keepers policies. Have a shop roof over your head and you got a better deal. There were 2x more freelance mechanics 15 years than now so I doubt it will be the future. Larger shops (CRS) with mobile crews will more than likely be the future but at a cost.
    I found the high end market went to "high end" shops and the only time a lesser shop could make in roads was when the high end shop was swamped. Unfortunately once the swamp dried up no more work for the little guys.
    If owners would maintain aircraft over the course of a year as the guidance points to instead of fixing everything at annual could change the market and support a 5-mech shop especially at a busy airport. My owner-assist group worked like this and there was always something to do during the year plus the annuals weren't as intense. So its possible with the right owner market.
    The problem is the new mechanics are going to Part 135/121 ops and have no intention of working on small GA aircraft. And its not just because of the money issues. Most want turbines, jets, or helicopters. And the money they pay at those locations is more than acceptable for those who take that route. To me nobody wants to work in the trades as before since the same issues are affecting all trades and not just aviation mechanics.
     
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  8. Tom J

    Tom J Pre-Flight

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    Agree about 121/135. All the time in the facebook A&P group folks are asking about pay scales at the majors, don't see too many talking up the GA world. Biggest reason I can throw wrenches at GA is I get a retirement from the Navy.
     
  9. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Man I wish I had met you before I sat for my exams in the good old USA. I didn’t need to actually know the answers to the questions on the test or the two day long practical test…

    man I wasted a lot of years getting ready for those tests.
     
  10. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    IMHO most of the Techs that have a career with Airline or Corporate are graduates
    of a Part 147 School.

    Those that work with Light Aircraft tend to have qualified per FAR 65.77 (Experience).

    The Light Aircraft segment seems to utilize recent Part 147 grads to gain work
    experience and folks that approach the A &P as a second career or retirement gig.

    I believe one of the factors in declining numbers of A & P’s is that the number of
    Aircraft Maintenance Technician Schools has decreased dramatically. This is
    particularly true of High School Programs.

    The cost of the equipment required by Part 147 is astronomical. Add this to the
    Record Keeping Requirements and Staff Training and you can see it pretty much
    eliminates small schools.

    One way to cope with this is to have what I call a “Part 65.77 School” although there Is no such thing. Students qualify for the FAA blessing by any combination
    of aircraft work experience. Common methods are Military, Flying Clubs, project rebuilding or maintaining your own aircraft ( Owner Assist). The student keeps a log of all maintenance activities and has them verified by the overseeing Techs.

    This is not a quick way to qualify but rather a process of preparing for a career change at some point. The Veterans Administration has a history of working with shops that has a written path to Certification.

    The class can meet in a variety of venues. Adult Education or using the FBO’s
    hangar are possibilities. Staffing could vary dependent on number of students and
    capabilities of the instructor. It can be public sector or private.

    There is no way the “65.77 School” can provide all of the information needed to
    obtain the Certificate. Individual studying is required. Isn’t that true of almost any
    career?

    A 3 hour class meeting 26 nights per year might use the following as a template:

    Year 1 - General - FAR, wt n balance, corrosion, hardware, fuel, NDT, etc

    Year 2- Electrical. - Basic, Ignition, etc

    Year 3 - Airframe. - Theory of Flight, Rigging, Hydraulics ,Sheet Metal, etc.

    Year 4- Powerplant - Reciprocating and Turbine

    This schedule may work well with folks working toward certification on a part time
    basis . “Hands-on” activity is likely at a minimum and must be addressed via the
    methods mentioned earlier.
     
  11. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    And people still waste time now. Its only a series of tests. The learning happens after those tests. Getting the authorization to take the tests is everything.
    The school numbers have declined simply due to declining enrollment numbers, i.e., lack of students. One school in TX was saved recently because the local community joined togather to support the college based A&P program with outside money and guaranteed enrollment numbers. And as a FYI, your Part 65.77 school needs a regulatory path to be feasible and 65.77 only requires experience in 50% of the categories that are found in a 147 school. Regardless, as I've said before its not the A&P process that is lacking, its the lack of people wanting to be A&Ps. Fix that, and the process will fix itself.
     
  12. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    I agree with schools closing due to lack of numbers. Full time students can move to
    the location of their choice. Working folks pursuing certification part-time face a different picture. A 200 mile drive to class pretty much much rules out that option.
    Particularly since that route typically requires years to complete.

    The 65.77 school does not certify students so there is no concern with regulation compliance. The “ school” merely dispenses information to aid the student that will qualify by their work experience. Any person can teach under these circumstances. The real issue is keeping sufficient students to maintain a viable class. The success is measured by whether the students are satisfied with the material being presented to them. If they are; they continue.

    A video can transfer some some of the same information efficiently. However; there is no provision to tailor the material to individual students or groups. An on- line class may be more effective in that respect. This would allow students from a MIL base to gain insight into the areas they are not exposed to at work. Among them would be fabric, mags, and piston engines. The light aircraft guys can become familiar with turbines and pressurization. Many colleges have on- line courses and possibly Some Part 147 schools also.

    People can spend many years as a helper to get the 65.77 required hours. It is extremely doubtful that all the areas needed to get certified would be achieved just by OJT. Some type of program is needed to fill in the blanks.
     
  13. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    However, in order for anyone to apply your programs knowledge toward their experience qualifications the "school" would need a regulatory connection to 65.77 in some way or the time spent learning the "schools" information doesn't count at all.
    Except when using the 65.77(b) experience route for test authorization, it only requires experience in 50% of the areas a Part 147 school will cover. So OJT and other methods can and do cover the minimum requirements. The choke point is at the FSDO ASI level who needs to make a judgement call whether the applicant meets the minimum. That said, there still are ASIs who will accept a signed A&P letter attesting to the knowledge level of the aspiring A&P and will issue the 8610-2s based on that letter alone. The key is to find what your local ASI wants up front and tailer your experience documentation to meet those requirements.
     
  14. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    I agree; the “ School” time cannot be used toward the 65.77 requirements.

    My policy when encountering folks that are new to aviation is to encourage them to keep a logbook of anything remotely associated with aircraft maintenance. This includes people such as veterans, CAP,EAA, and recent aircraft buyers. Usable Time is not only twisting wrenches but should include research and diagnostic time. Even a certain amount of washing time may be acceptable. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Put it ALL on the table and let the ASI make the call. Addition documentation such as pix will strengthen your case.

    The “student” must understand it is their responsibility to keep the log for the Tech to sign. Is is easy to fall behind and later short change yourself on the actual number of hours involved. Since they are in the learning stage there is no
    “flat rate time” to meet. Completing the Time Log is often the biggest hurdle to getting the A&P. In some cases , not every entry has to be signed by an A & P.
    The standard is “Satisfactory to the Administrator” and may be documented in other ways.

    The “65.77 School” is a method of assisting those that wish to pursue certification.
    It can also be useful to people wanting to know more about their aircraft or
    considering some type of project. There is no direct comparison with a Part 147 School except that it is a flexible , affordable aid to certification for part- timers.
    It is an option some Techs may want to pursue. They should understand that teaching is not intuitive and they may learn as much as the students.
     
  15. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    I guess I'm not following your thought train. You call it a "school" but give the "students" nothing tangible toward obtaining their 8610s to take the certification tests. I have been helping people get their A&Ps for a number of years using various methods. To me the primary goal is to obtain the required experience in the least amount of time and cost to get their 8610s and take the test. If they're still weak on the basics, go to Bakers and take the tests. There's already a number of aviation maintenance references out there that would do the same as your "school" for free. So short of the FSDO lowering the requirements to take the test I just don't see the benefit of your "school" as it is presently depicted.
     
  16. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    Call it what you will.

    It sounds like you are essentially a “65.77 School” since you provide insight into
    the world of aviation maintenance. What I’m describing is the same thing. I’m not sure if what you describe is dealing with one person on an informal basis or are there scheduled meetings? My description is the latter.

    The benefit to the student is gaining an understanding of a many of the subject areas so that they may eventually obtain certification.
    The class provides insight into subjects such as :
    How a carburetor ( or magneto, hydraulic or pressurization system) functions.
    ADs and FAR’s
    Hardware identification and riveting selection and techniques.
    Etc, etc.
    In short; just about everything a Part 147 would provide.
    However; the “ hands - on” is very limited and subjects are also at the basic level.

    A class meeting one evening per week and attempting to meet the Part 147 hours
    would take about 20 years. No one will make that commitment.

    I would be interested in the free resources.

    With a class of 20 tuition works out to be about $5.00 per hour for the student.
    I’m sure most of those in attendance spend more on gas getting there!

    I’m glad to hear that you are also assisting people reach their goals.
    There are Techs that will not share their knowledge with those just getting started
    in a career. “I know something you don’t know so I’m better than you” is their attitude. I despise people like that.
     
  17. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    No its not. I’m more a “facilitator than a “teacher.” After the individual figures out their path and determines what their local ASI will need, I simply offer several directions to follow. No “classes” on magnetos, or oil systems, or weight and balance and so on. If they inquire on study material, I send the links listed below. If applicable, and I have the contacts, I’ll assist in finding places where they can build OJT experience. Years ago when I still worked, I would put them to work to build OJT toward their 65.77(b) experience requirement. However, nothing I’ve done lately will get them any closer to getting their 8610s tickets to take the test. That’s all on them. I just help them take the easiest path--no "classes" required.;)

    Study links:
    https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/f...oks_manuals/aviation/amt_general_handbook.pdf

    https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/f...ks_manuals/aviation/amt_airframe_hb_vol_1.pdf
    https://www.faa.gov/handbooksmanual...tenance-technician-handbook-airframe-volume-2

    https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/f...iation/FAA-H-8083-32-AMT-Powerplant-Vol-1.pdf
    https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/f...iation/FAA-H-8083-32-AMT-Powerplant-Vol-2.pdf

    https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/f...s/handbooks_manuals/aviation/FAA-H-8083-1.pdf

    New mechanic standards links:
    https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/media/amt_acs.pdf
    https://www.faa.gov/trainingtesting...tion-mechanic-general-airframe-and-powerplant

    Practical test links:
    https://www.faa.gov/mechanics/testing/practical/
     
  18. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    My belief is that if people gets good grounding in the basics of a subject then it is far easier to use the resources mentioned . Studying alone on some difficult subjects is not easy.

    Effective teaching entails more than the “ Data Dump “ technique. Videos (SHORT) projects and other methods enhance the learning experience. Safety wiring, mag 500 hr etc do likewise.

    At times involving the students is a great strategy. The anesthesiologist can provide insight into pressurization and oxygen requirements. The machinist may offer a better understanding of some metals. A music teacher came up with the best understanding of dynamic dampers that I have ever heard.

    Thanks for the links. Did you notice if the Skill Level is included ?
     
  19. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    What skill level?
     
  20. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Line Up and Wait

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    The issues with being an A&P/IA are many. As indicated here. Lots of insight. I hate to say NEVER, but I never will sign off any bodies airplane ever again. Too much liability. that's the big one. But other issues continue as well. The owner will take his German car to the stealership and pay big cost every few months. "Thats just the cost of driving a fine German car". But pay an A&P to take care of something is outragous and gettin ripped off. The german car tech probably got paid a lot more than the A&P. The fine German car is kept in a nice garage, but the expensive airplane sits outside in the sun an rain and hail. I had a client that kept their motorhome and boat in their hanger and the Bonanza outside on the ramp.
    I have had people forge my signature and number in the logs book. Had an insurance company come after me when the pilot landed on the nose wheel and took out the engine prop and nose bowl on the Bonanza. I had done his Biannual as well. I noted in his log about not transitioning to looking at the end of the runway on landing. That is probably what he did, and landing on the nose. Anyway, the insurance company wanted to hold me responsible. I did some professional witness work. That will open your eyes. So should you be willing to open yourself up to that. Or just work at your local Auto shop and go home without a care at the end of the day? Yes I know that there are issues with that too, but no where near as many problems that can ruin your life forever! Then ther eare the number of people who will want you to sign off thier plane, because "we are friends, or I'll buy you a hamberger someday". Nobody puts enough value on the skills and what you had to do to get where you are at. Owners don't put value on what an A&P had to do to earn that license!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2023
  21. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    Found it in the bottom link.

    I believe they are using Performance Level together with Skill Level..

    This is the level of proficiency a Part 147 School should have the student achieve for any given task in the curriculum.

    Level 1 = Basic knowledge with no hands - on .

    Level 2 = Knowledge is more in depth and limited hands- on skill.

    ie I can weld my toolbox but won’t touch an engine Mount.

    Level 3 = Performing on return-to- service standard. =Use a voltmeter to measure
    DC voltage.

    Skill Levels required do change over time just as the fleet does.
    Most of the “ Antique Arts” ( wood, fabric, paint) have been downgraded to Levels 1 or 2 while Inspection of Composite Structures is Level 3.

    Some people are astonished by this while thinking the Tech should be extremely good at every task. ‘ Taint so! It does reflect what proficiency is required to get the ticket. If you are at Level 2 do not do that task on an aircraft without upgrade trading.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2023
  22. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You don't have to be good at any task....you just have to know what good looks like. :D
     
  23. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    Well said. Puts you at Level 3!
     
  24. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    You were sued by an insurance company because of a flight review given as a CFI?
     
  25. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    FYI: you'll find those are administrative "levels" which have no bearing when applied in actual testing. Writing standards requires following certain guidelines. You'll find when it comes down to the physical testing, skill level is not discussed rather only if the applicant can perform the task requested.
     
  26. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    All of the “14x “ ops require considerable record keeping. Same in this case.

    The student would be unaware of the required Skill ( Performance) Level.
    However; the Instructor has to update the records for EACH task for EVERY student.

    Another hidden gem of 147 is “ Make- up Time”. When a student is absent for an hour or days they may fall behind on their minimum hours. Keeping a record of when and how the student obtains remedial training is required.

    Anyone that has been with a Flight School or Repair Station has experienced the joy of a Compliance Surveillance Inspection. Regardless of what is planned for the day, things will grind to a halt. The Tech School is no different. Students sit around waiting for direction while the Instructor tries to give the Fed-guy the information
    desired. Of course they are OBLIVIOUS to upsetting the routine and the instructional time lost.

    Of course this increases the cost and decreases the result.
     
  27. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Line Up and Wait

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    Not exactly. i was interrogated by the insurance companies lawyers who insisted that somehow, something I had done caused the event. They wanted me to admit that somehow I was responsible and should be held financially accountable. They threatened a lawsuit. It cost me some money to defend myself, and lots of grief. they never filed any suit as they didn't have any case. It was simply........Go after anyone who might have some money we can get our hands on. Someone who might be intimidated enough to take some financial responsibility.
     
  28. edessa

    edessa Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I was doing maintenance on the side I looked at insurance. The least expensive I could find was $4500/year if my income was under $12000/year and went up from there. I was making around $3500/year so I ended up not offering maintenance on the side. I can't imagine the insurance cost for a shop with 5 techs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2023
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  29. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    That factor is what scares some mechanics out of GA and into auto or truck or heavy equipment maintenance. As long as greedy lawyers and plaintiffs keep doing that, GA will suffer.
     
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  30. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Honestly I think the GA mechanic situation is just a part of the trending status of GA. There are fewer mechanics just as there are fewer pilots and fewer airplanes. It's not because there is anything wrong with the certification process that needs to be fixed. Even the perceived reasons for the decline of GA are often wrong. It's not because it's expensive, it's always been expensive. Maybe it's because there was always this fantasy that the personal airplane was gonna be just like the automobile and it just didn't turn out to be that way, not because we didn't try but because there are factors in aviation that are far more daunting and complicated that any ground based form of transportation and our technological advancements have not been able to mitigate those factors.
     
  31. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    A former student tells me the commuter he is Director of Training for has a hard time keeping people. It doesn’t help that American and United are hiring non-cert
    folks.
     
  32. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Line Up and Wait

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    A repairman's cert is pretty easy compared to an A&P. And why not. You work in the seat shop for 30 yrs, why do you need an A&P. Or you work in the instrument shop for 30 yrs. So pick one. I think A&P's are still considered "semi-skilled labor". A machinist is considered "skilled labor". A&P's are considered "Jacks of all trades and master of none". So why not work for the German car repair place. Pay is better, not much responsibility, no drug test, you can get a job anywhere in minutes. when I worked as an A&P it might take months of unemployment to work your way through the highering process for an A&P job. So when my job went away, I worked for a time at a car garage. They were very happy to have me. EXCEPT, I wanted to do the extra that was required in aviation, that didn't pay, and they didn't like that. You want to see shoddy work, work a while in construction. I did that too. But thats a different story. Inorder to attract the people who want to do the work that aviation requires, you need to provide the incentive to do that quality of work. And as much as it seems rediculous, you need to provide the emotional incetive as well. It's that "glory" you can't take to the bank that keeps you in this industry. some may call it respect.
     
  33. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    That changed around 40 years ago and A&Ps are now skilled labor per the Dept of Labor.
     
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  34. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    I don't think they are but that doesn't change the fact that the airlines pretty much sanctioned and created the repair station concept who yes indeed do hire folks with no certificates.
     
  35. Magman

    Magman Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think I misread my mail. The Commuter has a OJT Program to get Certified Mechanics. The problem is retention as the other 2 are hiring folks with no experience.
     
  36. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    well, until airplanes start shedding engine mounts and crashing left and right, the american consumer appears copacetic with the labor environment for av mechanics. Don't shoot the messenger; I'm aware of my own labor obsolescence so I don't highlight that dynamic flippantly.
     
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  37. Fracpilot

    Fracpilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    United is hiring, non-certificated mechanics, and giving them the 30 months of experience for the A&P. There’s a program that has been developed and here’s the article from Nov 2022.

    https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-...-02/united-launches-house-ap-training-program
     
  38. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Line Up and Wait

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    Display name:
    Oldmanb777
    In the airline environment, there really isn't a need for the licenses. You could work your whole career and be an expert in a specific discipline and have no need for other knowledge.
    That said they used to have "license pay". So the incentive was there to get licensed. I have been out of that for long enough that i have no idea what the contracts look like now.