The current issue of Aviation Maintenance magazine points to two daily concerns around aircraft maintenance. By far, the biggest issue is an impending shortage of qualified and skilled technicians for MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul). Some believe that shortage begins to hit home this year when the industry could see between 12-18 thousand positions short of demand.
The second issue the magazine probes are challenges around APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) maintenance, a strategic aircraft system that demands detailed maintenance while trying
to keep air fleets in operation. While SAS is hardly at the forefront of these issues, they do impact our business and maybe, we can have a small part in the solutions.
The shortage of skilled technicians (which some suggest could grow to 27% of the workforce) comes about for 3 key reasons.
- Retirements of baby-boomers
- Expansion in the airline industry (fleets and schedules are growing)
- Lack of both the “mindset” and capacity for training technicians.
According to the Aviation Technician Education Council, skilled technicians have grown old and about 30% are close to retirement age. They say aircraft mechanics are 51 years old on average and more than a quarter of them are already 64.
There is a strong demand, with promising opportunities for young people willing to come into the aircraft maintenance field. But as authors point out, some of the positives of that have been discounted by the cultural fixation on a college degree vs. technical training. Fighting that bias, and building the schools needed to train those future technicians will be a challenge.
As for retaining aging mechanics on the job, one of the major solutions airlines can provide is creating the best possible workplace conditions. That means technical and other tools that make job easier, reduce strain and lifting, and eliminate wear and tear on mechanics.
SAS has a role in that solution by engineering and providing work stands that are ergonomically designed, with high attention to safety and functionality. A good example of that is our new line of Wi-FI access stands which maximize safety and minimize “lifting”.
The second issue Aviation Maintenance highlights in their publication is the ongoing demand for APU repair and overhaul. This important equipment requires regular and routinely scheduled maintenance that is essential for airlines to keep their planes in service. SAS recently designed and delivered new APU access stands for a customer to help its mechanics do just that.
We’re glad to be even a small part of creating solutions that help address big concerns