Aviation mechanics are forecast to be in short supply in the coming years. Between 2018 and 2036, there will likely be a cumulative shortage of 40,613 certified aviation mechanics in the United States, according to a recent study by the University of North Dakota (UND) in collaboration with the Helicopter Association International (HAI) and the Helicopter Foundation International (HFI).
Presented at the recent HAI Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, the study states, “Unless there are some fundamental changes in policy, outreach, scholarships, and access to financing, the industry faces largescale deficits in the amount of available and qualified licensed and certificated pilots and mechanics.”
Although the focus was on the helicopter industry, the warning applies to a wider audience in the commercial aircraft and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) segments.
More than 67% of survey respondents in the study indicated they are experiencing difficulties finding qualified mechanics. More than 60% reported hiring mechanics with less experience than they hired in previous years, and more than 50% said in the next five years, the inability to hire capable mechanics will interfere with their ability to expand.
A graph from the report begins with a gradual decline in aviation mechanics in the U.S., reaching a shortage of 5,000 by 2026. From there, the plot shows a steep decline from 2028, with the mechanic deficit growing from 10,000 to more than 40,000 by 2036.
Boeing, in its recent Pilot & Technician Outlook, predicts the need for 648,000 new commercial airline technicians worldwide from 2017 to 2036. Nearly 40% of this need – 256,000 – will be in the Asia Pacific region – more than North America and Europe combined (229,000).
It will be difficult enough to train homegrown technicians, but the UND/HAI/HFI study points out another potential problem. Given China’s announced intentions to grow its civil aviation capabilities, the study states, “There will likely be a corresponding need for expat pilots and mechanics from other countries.”
The study’s authors cannot quantify the exact number of foreign workers required but note this trend could produce an additional shortage of pilots and mechanics in other countries. This potential talent drain was not considered in the forecast and could make the technician shortage in the U.S. even more acute.
To help mitigate a technician shortage, the study recommends the industry engage in more modern outreach techniques targeting Generation Z – digital natives who live and interact online.
In the U.S., the study proposes policy reform to ease the transition of military mechanics to civilian roles and lessen the liability surrounding aviation mechanics and their work.
The number of MRO scholarships is growing, but there needs to be more, and educational-industry partnerships must expand. Financing training is a topic for another time.
Ignoring the need for qualified technicians jeopardizes the forecast orders of 41,000 new airplanes in the next 18 years. Airlines and lessors won’t invest in aircraft destined to sit on the ground because they lack technicians to keep them flying. – Eric
The ProLeiS manufacturing execution system (MES) software offers comprehensive data management, manufacturing planning, and manufacturing control functions to control individual parts for dies and injection molds – from quotation to the finished product.
Users can check during pre-planning to determine whether proposed projects can be processed and meet delivery dates. Overviews of milestones,
Helical cutter program
The Semi-Standard Helical Cutter Program slashes required lead times for custom helical cutter tooling. By streamlining tool acquisition, customers can apply the technology and quickly improve metal-removal operations.
In applications involving
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Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp., and the Hartford section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) honored five Distinguished Engineers of the Year during National Engineers Week. The ASME Hartford section provides these annual awards to recognize and promote excellence in the field of engineering.
Those receiving the award include Mark Von Nieda, chief engineer for the F100/TF33/J52; Rick Carlton, chief engineer for military development programs; Ron Prihar, structures discipline chief, GSE; Esther Boyes, model chief engineer for the PW1900G and PW1700G; and Dan
C.R. Onsrud expands, add fabrication center
CNC machine tool manufacturer C.R. Onsrud stepped into the next era of growth with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new, 55,000ft² fabrication center. The building houses machines and technologies for turning raw materials into bases, columns, bridges, and other key CNC machine components.
“This new facility provides the company
Opening remarks were followed by an extensive tour of the entire C.R. Onsrud campus – allowing visitors to get an up-close perspective on American manufacturing in the 21st century and view machining demonstrations.
Charlie Onsrud started the company in the 1970s. Today, Charlie’s sons Tom, Bill, and John Onsrud drive the company which designs, engineers, and builds CNC platforms in shapes and sizes tailor-made to the needs of leading brands in aerospace, automotive, and other advanced materials.www.cronsrud.com
GE seeks to narrow manufacturing skills gap
By collaborating with local colleges on
Lafayette needs shop floor technicians holding a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airframe and powerplant (A&P) license to perform diverse technical tasks on sophisticated equipment inside the new facility. Licensed engineers are also needed for the full disassembly of LEAP engines made by GE and Safran joint venture CFM Int’l.
In 2016, Ivy Tech Community College established a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in aviation maintenance technology with a concentration
Ivy Tech hopes to have about 30 graduates from the program each year to provide a pipeline for GE’s Lafayette operation and other manufacturing operations, says Dr. Todd Roswarski, Ivy Tech’s vice chancellor for academic affairs. Currently, there are 17 students in the program with the first graduates expected within a year.www.cfmaeroengines.com; www.geaviation.com; www.ivytech.edu; www.safran-group.com
Bishop-Wisecarver reaffirms commitment to STEM
Industrial automation company Bishop-Wisecarver continues to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education as a Diamond Supplier of
“Our job at FIRST is to develop the next generation of problem solvers who need
During FIRST, teams from countries around the world will compete in 85 district events, 10 district championships, and 63 regional events in seven countries – all leading up to the 2018 FIRST Championship events in Houston, Texas, April 18-21, 2018; and Detroit, Michigan, April 25-28, 2018.www.bwc.com; www.firstinspires.org
As the aero industry supplies legacy jet engines while simultaneously producing a new generation of more advanced, fuel-efficient engines, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are migrating some parts production to tier suppliers. The question becomes, can suppliers increase productivity without investing in new capacity?1) What changes are you seeing in aero engine production?
BM: OEMs are moving legacy parts production to Tier 1 suppliers, who are moving production to Tier 2s and Tier 3s. There must be flawless execution throughout this transition, because errors add cost, and everyone’s under pressure to contain costs while achieving higher productivity and meeting demand. Knowing specifically what will work in metal cutting materials and applications has shifted from manufacturers to suppliers. It’s up to the tier supplier to know and learn because the materials have changed, often requiring changes in machining speeds and feeds. If you bid based on the materials you’ve worked in the past, you’ll likely lose out.2) What’s changing the materials that tier suppliers must machine?
BM: Everyone wants metals to be lighter and stronger for greater speed and increased efficiency while retaining those properties at higher temperatures. These properties do make the material more difficult to machine, putting higher loads on inserts, and requiring different cutting strategies, cutting tool materials, and geometries.
3) What do the Tier 2s and 3s need to learn? BM: Look
BM: Speed has always been the answer, but we question if that is always the right strategy. As with most
Our answer is our XSYTIN®-1 ceramic insert grade, which is twice as tough as anything we have ever made and can run in a wide variety of workpiece materials.
Most machinists are comfortable using carbide tools, and most CAD software is developed for carbide, but it may not generate the right speeds and feeds and tool path options for optimum chip load for ceramics. Greenleaf can help bridge that knowledge gap.5) What steps can improve dialogue between customers and tooling suppliers?
BM: Customers should look at their suppliers as “true” business partners. We succeed when our customers succeed. Just talking with customers about speeds, feeds, and grades is not enough. We talk with our customers about the material – cast, forged – machine capability, how to process parts efficiently, part fixturing, logistics and then get to what tools are needed. We work from the spindle out, not the other way around. There isn’t an application we haven’t done. During the past 70+ years, we have developed quite an extensive knowledge base. Give Greenleaf a call and have us come in and demonstrate on your machine, so we can show you the performance we’re capable of delivering.