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ARSA Adds to Quality Discussion at Airline Workforce Forum

On Nov. 7 and 8, Airlines for America (A4A) hosted its second annual AMT Career Forum at JetBlue headquarters in Long Island City, New York. ARSA Vice President of Communications Brett Levanto joined the group to help add “the repair station perspective.”

The agenda included a series of roundtable discussion on marketing, recruitment, regulatory oversight and educational programs. Participants representing A4A’s member airlines, the FAA, New York-area aerospace training programs, maintenance providers and several aviation trade associations explored the reality of finding and retaining technically-capable mechanics.

While many publications – including ARSA’s 2017 member survey report – have carefully reported the shortage of qualified technicians, forum participants took the next step in the discussion by focusing on the quality of available talent in addition to the quantity of applicants.

“If we’re going to change the shape of curve, [the broad aviation community’s] resources need to get plugged into this effort,” said A4A Managing Director of Engineering and Maintenance Bob Ireland, describing the increasingly dire need for maintenance shops to reverse recent workforce trends. At every break in the agenda, Ireland – who organized the event – reinforced that attendees were expected to turn valid discussion into valuable action.

Levanto joined Jim Sokol, HAECO Americas president of MRO services, to review the workforce realities of FAA-certificated repair stations. They discussed business management, regulatory requirements, onboarding time and the balance of A&P mechanics, repairmen and non-certificate-holding technicians. The group reviewed data from two of ARSA’s workforce-related “quick questions” as well association-proposed amendments to the House and Senate bills to reauthorize the FAA.

“This is a great venue for an important discussion,” Levanto said. “Last year [at the inaugural forum, hosted at A4A’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.] I thought we had a great group, but you could feel us gain momentum this week: Everyone was actively engaged, candid and open to learning about what’s really going on in the maintenance workforce. We just can’t work anymore without this kind of proactive interaction.”

For information about Levanto’s presentation or general support for workforce development initiatives, contact him at

Previous Career Fora...

11/1/16 - Airline Forum Makes AMT Recruitment a Family Affair

November 1, 2016

On Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, Airlines for America hosted an aircraft maintenance technician career forum at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Event participants, including representatives from ARSA as well as several of its associate members, discussed the personal investment of the aviation workforce and how to expand on this commitment to grow new talent.

The agenda included regulatory, communications and human resources panel discussions as well as interview sessions with aviation students. Through many of these activities, participants highlighted the importance of personal relationships to inspiring current AMTs. For technicians and students, having family or friends with maintenance experience is a key driver towards a career in the field.

While this is a great advantage when it works – recruits brought in through personal contacts are often deeply committed to aviation – these networks alone cannot provide the expanding pools of talent needed to support the maintenance community. To pursue that end, the forum provided a venue to explore STEM engagement, apprentice programs, public relations, academic partnerships and human capital efforts to attract, enlist and retain the next generation of aviation professionals.

Specific obstacles the industry faces include changing demographics, the impact of technology on hands-on experience (e.g., fewer and fewer cars are fixed in their owner’s garage) and school curricula skewing away from technical skillsets. Presenters from airlines, industry groups and the FAA provided best practices, lessons learned and resources for overcoming these gaps.

Brett Levanto, ARSA’s vice president of communications, moderated a discussion with 2016 ARSA Scholarship winner Tony Tran, who provided guidance to the group through his personal insights as well as survey data gathered from his classmates at Chaffey Community College. Levanto then joined Aviation Week’s Ed Hazelwood to brainstorm how to address the “brand” of AMT careers and defeat negative perceptions of technical work.

Resources (and examples) for aviation employers highlighted during the meeting:

Stay tuned for more on how ARSA and its allies are working to develop the maintenance workforce of the future. For more information about this work, or to share input regarding your own recruitment efforts, contact Levanto at

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