Lewis University has been training aviation maintenance technicians since 1932. It is a core competency of the University, with thousands of professional alumni sprayed over Chicago, the United States, and internationally. These current A&P mechanics have advanced through airline, aerospace, and management careers. However volatile the industry has been, many of these “Baby Boomer” technicians look back over rewarding careers that showed steady gains in pay and prestige. However, it looks as though this generation of mechanics are looking forward to retirement. With age an inevitably for all of us, these retirements make room for the next generation of A&P mechanics.
A recent article in, Aviation International News, reports that Boeing, Embraer, Bombardier, Airbus, and other manufacturer’s are seeking 500,000 pilots over the next 20 years. But who will fix the fleet of next generation, highly sophisticated aircraft they will be flying. For that matter, who is going to fix the booming Unmanned Aerial Systems, Green technology aircraft, and rocket propulsion platforms that are sprouting up all over the business landscape. The numbers of Aviation Maintenance Technicians needed over the next twenty years surpasses pilots by almost 100,000.
600,000 aviation maintenance technicians cannot be trained in traditional aircraft disciplines. While all of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements must be met and the certification process complied with, new highly technical and scientific schools will be needed. Lewis University is right on pace to teach these necessary skills. Older gyroscopic units, air data instruments, and cockpit indicators have been replaced by advanced Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT). Drive electronic units (DEU) throw light over a display unit giving incredible amounts of accurate data to flight crews. Aircraft engines that once consisted of internal combustion engines like automobiles, are being replaced with smaller jet versions which have far less moving parts to fail. Furthermore, Autopilots which were once used to assist pilots with flying the aircraft have become pervasive. Advanced sensory technologies allow the planes of today to auto land, auto throttle, auto navigate, and drop down on approaches to incredibly low decision heights. This is not a commentary on pilot skill, but rather an economic response to high fuel costs. Automated aviation technologies can squeak out every penny of revenue from each gallon of gas burned. Airbus has just committed to a fleet of smaller electrically powered sport aircraft for market. A highly trained and skilled technician is going to be needed to troubleshoot, maintain, and repair these advanced systems.
The article goes on to state, “The Aircraft Repair Station Association has put up its own recruiting website (www.avmro.com) to promote the profession, highlighting that there are more than 4,700 aircraft repair facilities worldwide employing roughly 473,000 people.” This is just one sector of aircraft maintenance, employers are anxious for a highly qualified, licensed and skilled technician. Airlines, repair stations, corporate business aviation departments, agricultural operators, the FAA, railroads, turbine technologies, even high rise building maintenance covet this licensure. Power companies are even utilizing high bypass jet engines used in series to power electrical grids.
The possibilities of this license, coupled with an undergraduate education, is a powerful weapon to wield in a competitive job market. The demand for highly skilled technicians is no longer in question. It is just a matter of who will choose this exciting career. Lewis University has unbelievable job placement and one of the strongest consortiums of alumni within the industry.