Topic Author
Posts: 1877
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2002 6:53 am

The 10 Year Cycle

Sat Mar 02, 2002 4:44 am

I do not know what you call it but I call it the "10 year cycle". It seems to me, every ten years; the airline business follows a definite upturn then downturn cycle. Currently of course, we are in a downturn and will be for another year by my calculation.

Your window for comfort in this business must be calculated correctly for ultimate job security. For example, around 1991 to 1993, it was very difficult to find work, that being the last downturn. The current downturn started about 6 months before 9/11, so the downturn this time started February 2001, in my opinion.

To be successful, you must use this to your advantage, especially in the large airline market. The downturn will last one more year but we are through the worst of it. We will slowly climb out but there will still be apprehension and new employment will be slim.

When the upturn starts only the strongest will hire, with sporadic layoffs still present in the industry. There will be airline losses, those not prepared will go out of business and that group will flood the market.

Here are my thoughts; employment for new A&P mechanics will be limited to bottom dwelling airlines and cargo outfits. This hiring will start about next year and mechanics with 3-5 years experience, who lost jobs in the downturn, will be absorbed by the surviving majors who made it through the downturn.

I know this sounds a little crazy and not very scientific but it's something I have watched since I started in this business. I always listened to the old-timers and what they had to say. This is how I came up with this crazy idea.

My advice, never get out of the business stick with it. Once you get out and try to get back in you are shunned unless the employer is desperate. If you must, get hired by some less than desirable operators, and keep your aviation experience in motion. Always keep in contact with old friends and help each other job hunt.

Hire in early in the upturn for major airlines and never hire in late in the cycle. Late in the cycle would be the last three years in the 10-year cycle. So in effect you really have seven years to get hired to be comfortable.

If anyone would like to thoroughly debunk my idea fine but its what I have noticed. Of course, other factors come into play, for example A&P shortages. For the most part however my theory has remained constant and I hope you can use my advice.

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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2001 10:21 am

RE: The 10 Year Cycle

Sat Mar 02, 2002 9:29 am

I am graduating from an A & P school on monday. I already have my P ticket and should have my Airframe by next week. What do you think the chances of me landing a decent job are right now? I currently work for a major in line service and had hoped to jump over to the maintenance side once I graduated but looks like that isnt going to happen anytime soon. What makes things worse is that I am in the NYC area which seems to have been the hardest hit because of 9/11. You wouldn't happen to know of any good places where I would be able to find some job openings around this are would you? I am wondering if I am going to be able to find work soon or am I just going to be stuck on the ramp slinging bags for a while longer. Any help very much appreciated.


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RE: The 10 Year Cycle

Sat Mar 02, 2002 1:34 pm

I'm thinking it's more like a Seven Year Cycle. Hiring was pretty slow in 86 as well.
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RE: The 10 Year Cycle

Sat Mar 02, 2002 1:51 pm

TechRep, I agree and disagree.

First of all it was extremely hard to get hired during 1991-1993. I had just earned my A&P ticket in January 1992, so I lived through it.

As far as your assertion that only the bottom-feeding cargo carriers will be hiring, you may be right except for one notable exception. And that exception would be my employer, Southwest. We are hiring LOTS of mechanics this year and we will continue to do so in order to man our new DAL Heavy MX hangar due to open in May and fill slots around the system as needed. In fact we never quit hiring pilots and F/A's after 9/11, due to the fact that we are often shorthanded around the holidays as people take vacation. We even had mechanics with start dates after 9/11; they had been promised a start date prior to the attacks and the company wanted to honor that commitment. I realize that we are not like the other airlines (who are still bleeding red ink), but that only makes me feel more blessed to work here.
Patrick Bateman is my hero.
Topic Author
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Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2002 6:53 am

RE: The 10 Year Cycle

Sat Mar 02, 2002 11:05 pm

Southwest is an anomaly by all means. They have their own equation all together. They are an airline run the way all airlines should be. I have a lot of respect for them but eveytime I ever applied for employment I never got a response. SWA hired many of my best guys at Dee Howard, including my supervisor. From what I gather, the best method is to get a few references from mechanics already working for SWA. They then walk your resume through for you and speed the process, nothing wrong with that.

I however wanted to go a different direction in my career, the thought of ever turning a wrench again curled my stomach, and I was burnt out. I have found my calling and love my current employer. My longevity is wholly based on the 728 family of aircraft. If that project succeeds, I will succeed, if not the future of Dornier my even be at stake.

Working for a manufacturer is even more stressful than the airlines but I have hope and optimism.

As far as A&P technicians coming out of school, well your future is not as bleak as I may have painted it. The "10 year cycle" is more as a reference than fact. In some respects it's right on the mark in other more refined ways it’s vague.

As I pointed out, there currently is a shortage of Licensed A&P technicians; this will play heavy in your favor. I predict the next 5-7 years will be the most lucrative years since the 1970's for A&P Technicians. That's a lofty thing to say agreed. Let me explain further.

A cross section of our industry currently indicates there are many technicians between the ages 50-60. In fact, I have seen industry indicators as high as 20% of "working" A&P technicians are in the 50-60 age group. This group will be retiring soon and the group to take their place; the 40-50 age bracket, is comparably smaller. These groups continue to get smaller all the way down the line. Reports indicate new A&P licenses issued have fallen dramatically.

The FAA and the ATA association have both pointed out there is in fact a shortage. Students interested in this field are not coming, why? Ill make it simple and brief then let you fill in the blanks, Pay and Liability. The A&P technician is severely under paid for the amount of liability put forth.

Recently a comparison was made in AMT magazine that compared the pay scales of Airline Mechanics to Car Mechanics. Want to know the result? I wasn’t surprised at all. The result was on the average, auto mechanics make the same and even more in some instances. See something wrong here? Liability.

The liability comparison for Airline Mechanics and Auto Mechanics is night and day. When was the last time an auto mechanic had his license pulled or did jail time like the ValuJet incident?

Airlines will fight kicking and screaming when it comes to paying the A&P Technician more money, look at what the Northwest Airline Technicians went thru. Why is it so easy for everyone to understand the liability the pilot incurs but not the liability the A&P incurs?

I could go on all day about this subject so I better cut it off now. I will leave you with a great poem about the A&P Mechanic. Good luck my brothers.


Author Unknown

Through the history of world aviation
Many names have come to the fore,
Great deeds of the past in our memory will last
As they're joined by more and more.

When the first man started his labor
in his quest to conquer the sky
He was a designer, mechanic and pilot,
and he built a machine that would fly.

The pilot was everyone's hero
He was bold, he was brave, he was grand,
As he stood by his battered old biplane
With his goggles in his hand.

But for each of our flying heroes
There were thousands little renown,
And these were the men who worked on the planes
But kept their feet on the ground.

We all know the name of Lindbergh,
And we've read of his flight into fame,
But think, if you can, of his maintenance man,
Can you remember his name?

Now, pilots are highly trained people
And wings are not easily won.
But without the work of the maintenance man
Our pilots would march with a gun.

So when you see the mighty jet aircraft
As they mark their path through the air,
The grease-stained man with the wrench in his hand
Is the man who put them there.

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Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 6:53 am

RE: The 10 Year Cycle

Mon Mar 04, 2002 6:51 pm

Yes,you're right about the 10-year cycle!The first 3 or 4 years of every decade since the -50's have been slow:
1950-53=Korean War,1960-63=The Jet Crisis as airlines switched from props to jets on a one-for-one basis,1970's oil crisis,1980's economic slump.1990's Gulf War.The present crisis.
Now,what's gonna cause the crisis in 2010-2013?
"Luck and superstition wins all the time"!
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 4:52 pm

RE: The 10 Year Cycle

Mon Mar 04, 2002 7:34 pm

TechRep, thanks for the poem; it's a great one. You are so right about the amount of liability we carry on our shoulders each and every day. I wish more laypeople realized that...especially in relation to the amount of compensation we receive (or should receive).
Patrick Bateman is my hero.
Topic Author
Posts: 1877
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2002 6:53 am


Mon Mar 04, 2002 11:33 pm

I consider this the single most important factor the modern A&P Technician faces today.


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