A concerted industry effort has been underway to update and align the aviation technician's professional standing with the current and future advancements in next generation business aircraft. The NBAA Maintenance Committee has been actively working on a plan to raise the level of education, training and expertise for all aviation technicians. The NBAA committee has collaborated with representatives from across the business aviation community—manufacturers, industry groups and professional associations, operators, MROs, education and training organizations, ASTM and the FAA.
It has been decades since the job descriptions and certification standards have been updated—unbelievably, some standards have been in place since the creation of the FAA in 1958. Clearly, the existing requirements for education and training have not kept up with new technology and equipment.
The committee's plan seeks to provide the necessary structure, consistency, and standardization to clearly define an individual technician's level of knowledge, experience and training and how qualified he/she is for a specific job certification and the associated privileges. This structure would define a career path for young technicians who want more responsibility. The plan would potentially create an additional level of aviation maintenance technician under FAR 91.409(f)—possibly a new option 5, or simply an addition to the existing f3. This level of would combine the FAA A&P/ FAA IA and ASTM AET skill sets and require ten years of continuous experience.
Some activities already underway include:
Of Duncan Aviation's total aviation technicians across all locations—342 have repairman certificates, 464 have an A&P license, and 738 are Inspectors (RII, QI and VI). Our avionics electrician techs have technical degrees or are military trained, and some are NCATT (now ASTM) AET certified.
AET NCATT certification transferred to ASTM—an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards. All those who hold an NCATT certification, are automatically recognized by ASTM. ASTM is a worldwide standards organization, and will provide the structure for business aviation to create certification standards for maintenance techs and AETs.
As a major MRO and FFA Repair Station, Duncan Aviation team members have support and structure often not available at smaller operations or independent flight departments. Technicians who work for large organizations, like Duncan Aviation, have a wealth of tools, technical support and resources available to them: career paths are defined, formal technical and leadership training and a wide range of on-the-job training and learning experiences are available. Opportunities for learning and career advancement are much less obvious for the individual technician who works alone, or for a smaller company or flight department.
You will probably hear more about this topic in the future as ASTM and the NBAA Maintenance Management Committee (MMC) continue to push forward to 1) create a new standard for those entering the aviation maintenance profession; 2) update training and education standards to address current technology; and 3) engage regulatory authorities to renew/revise regulations—with the ultimate goal of attracting the next generation of technicians to the business aviation industry.
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