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Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:02 pm

It seems today I am seeing more and more articles of the lack of trained, skilled people going into highly technical jobs in Maintenance. A good example will be the increasing wages and benefits for people with A&P certificates. It seems like almost employer has raised the entry level wage for new A&Ps, some airlines are offering bonuses while FAA personnel (William O'Brian) are publishing articles on the graying of mechanics. It seems that when I walk into a corporate shop that more mechanics are twice my age (I'm 23). Also, figuring in that most A&P schools take 2 years to train a mechanic just for the rating and there are almost zero new schools being certified, it just seems like a recipe for an employee shortage.

Are there any personnel out there that would like to comment on how the airlines/corporate are trying to entice people my age to become mechanics. What factors are affecting people in different areas like forced overtime, increasing bonuses or outsourcing of maintenance to overseas suppliers of cheap labor and equally cheap training.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:29 pm

Quoting Penguinflies (reply 0):
It seems like almost employer has raised the entry level wage for new A&Ps

Good to hear! (Ok, I might loose a few of my "good guys" if this applies to those with seniority, but I do like to look out for them in the long run.) Do you have a link?

There is the problem that too many shop became too inefficient... (Some were found to have employees watching 3+ hours of TV a DAY!) So quite a few went under in the "down time" post 911. Now... We're back in the upswing so the maint. work can no longer be differed by rotation equipment through the bone yards (or ripping engines off of stored airliners to keep the fleet flying). but the shops are leaner and maintenance per flight hour is a constant downward trend, so fewer workers per aircraft will be required.*

Trust me, forced overtime in the "gravy days" is better than layoffs in the trough... and there will be a trough again (hopefully not until the "normal" 7+ year cycle is done with).

Does anyone have a link to statistics on aircraft maintenance hours worked covering 1990 to now?


* when normalized by fleet age. This is a by-product of the trend for my line mx units and engineering for longer duration between inspections/overhauls. Sorry, I don't have a link. But I've seen plenty of charts that show an almost consistent drop if you look at the 20+ year trend.
You only have the first amendment with the 2nd. If you're not going to offend someone with what you say, you don't have the 1st.
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:57 pm

I suspect that the same will occur in management in the next couple of years. Since there are so few people who really have their act together, it should be a good time for those of us who are more or less with the program. As soon as the doctors release me to return to work, I'm back in the game. That won't be until fall 2005 at the earliest, so I just have to keep doing what I have been doing,,,giving people good advice and bringing people together and creating good working teams (among other things).

David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Tue Mar 08, 2005 2:57 am

As an AMT I would disagree. The airlines and the FAA seem to be doing a very good job of elimnating the Certified Aircraft Mechanic. Thousands have been furloughed by most major carriers with little chance of being recalled. More cuts are coming. DL has let 1100 go from the maintenance division so far this year and we know they are going to cut at least 500-900 more jobs in a couple of months. Not all are certified mechanincs but many are.

Most have either outsourced all Heavy Maintenance; CO, UAL, AK, JetBlue, Am West or are trying to outsource as much as they can; US, NW, DL. They are all sending work to shops that only hire the minimum number of certified mechanics they can get away with. Now with the blessing of the FAA work is being sent to overseas shops. The AMT in this country is a dying breed. Job prospects with the major airlines are low and the wages are dropping at a lot of carriers.
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Tue Mar 08, 2005 3:08 am

I can only hope that the same will be true for flight attendants, that would make paying my rent a lot easier in the future Smile Any info on that ?
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Tue Mar 08, 2005 8:32 am

That's an interesting point DALMD88. I didn't realize that facet of aviation is reducing in size. I do believe that many of the positions already eliminated were those of repairmen (if that is the right word). People without an A&P but who do work on aircraft. I know alot of the reductions were cut with that position in the workforce. Today at the low point in the trough, the older mechanics are either exiting the industry and there is low amount of enrollment and certification of A&Ps who are being hired by demand in domestic and foreign operations. Coupled with the forecasted increase in commercial and private operations, in 5 years won't you agree we will see a massive shortage of trained employees. Because of that fact, would you agree that more airlines will be pressured to outsource more maintenance and have less control on how their aircraft are maintained (in addition that the outsourcing may not be by the airlines choice in 5 years).

I know for a fact that private completion centers and outsourcing maintenance bases are hiring. In St. Louis, I've know the starting wage w/benefits to hover around the $16.00 mark for entry level. Most other positions I have seen posted so far for persons with an IA w/5 years experience hover around $25-30/hr (more or less depending on the location). Overtime in St. Louis is currently common and there are some instances of mandatory overtime. Of course we are not talking about American or Delta, but more like Bombardier's completion center or Lear Jet overhauls or regional airlines. In my view, coming in at the bottom of the seniority list, these wages seem decent enough to cover bills and live. Plus, IMO, the fact that I may be seeing faster advancement because of mechanics retiring, it just amazes me that more people are not looking at a 3-to-5 year plan.

Just a thought. (apologize for the ramble.)
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Tue Mar 08, 2005 8:46 am

There is little encouragement for those in high school to go into trades and an greater emphesis upon going on to college/university. Many people have very little exposure or experience in repairing cars or other mechanical things due to their increasing reliability and complexity. The economic cycles also had an affect in many skilled trades in the past. Airlines technical people, like in the construction trades as noted above, have boom/bust cycles. In addition, as also noted above, many employers are outsoursing to less expensive cost of living areas of the USA or outside the USA. Where there is great demand at airports or manufactures, they are often in high cost of living areas (like NYC area, LA area, etc.). Probably the Military is the main source in the USA of airline related skilled/technical personnel, including mechanics, air traffic control, ramp personnel and various levels of management. With the current Iraq war, some people are stuck in the military instead of getting out an into jobs. With older workers where company pensions still exist, you have a need for them to stick with the job as that is the bulk of their expected pensions income, and worse has been more airlines dumping their pensions on the Federal Guarantee Board, thus leading to lower pension payments.
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:33 am

Future shortage? Allow me this somewhat cynical musing:

-Downward pressure on compensation

-Mass layoffs

-Responsibility to compensation ratio becoming much less favorable

-Attrition; Experienced personnel retiring ( in most cases early ) or out-and-out quitting...much less attractive as a career to those who may enter it.

Now this is where "the tail wags the dog":

Rather than the supply-demand route ( which would dictate a reversal of above trends ) I believe we'll see the proffession cheapened and watered down, de-skilled....A sort of Taylorism revisited. The need will still be there, but will be encouraged to be filled by lowering standards with lesser qualified personel because..... ( drum roll ) these are " nobody wants"...or somesuch plattitude. Have we not heard this tail wagging the dog logic more frequently as of late?

Of course they'll ( the powers that be ) assure us that it matters not, and the laymen ( which would include some rabid enthusiasts ) would comfort themselves with the oft believed omnipotence of certain regulatory bodies, and that as long as this agency exists on the same planet as the air carriers, well than all is OK in the world. Of course, this aforementioned governing body 's self stated goal is a dual one, regulating air transport....and promoting it.

Air travel will flourish, and yes, there will be a need for personnel....a shortage if you will. But over "the captains of industry's" dead bodies will it be mitigated by better compensation or security. They'll do what any monied interest does when the rules ( in this case, supply/demand ) don't favor them: They lobby to change them altogether.

[Edited 2005-03-08 03:34:04]

[Edited 2005-03-08 03:36:14]
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RE: Future Shortage Of Airline Personnel

Tue Mar 08, 2005 3:54 pm


Very well put. I don't understand what some of these other posters see, but the AMT profession is certainly on a downward trend.

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