Aviation Workforce Think Tank slated

Aviation Workforce Development, in partnership with the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA), will host the first ever Aviation/Aerospace Workforce Issues Think Tank, May 7, 2013, in Minneapolis.

The aviation/aerospace industry is facing the “perfect storm” of 21st century leadership development issues: Large retirements of the baby-boomer generation, changing U.S. demographics, and the rising demands of the world economy, politics, and technology. Fundamentally, this means not enough well qualified and trained and certified personnel to meet demand. The industry cannot afford to raise the risk factor by not having a plan to alleviate the stress. The pressing question: What must be done and by whom?

The United States aviation and aerospace industries must act now to head off finding their leadership position on the world stage diminished. As older workers move toward retirement or into different areas, new workers search to develop their careers, and incumbent populations hope to regain employment.

The objective of the Think Tank initiative is to bring a small group of key aviation/aerospace industry leaders literally around a table to roll up their sleeves, address this looming crisis, bring real-time action items to the agenda, create measurements with tracking/reporting to monitor and follow through to tackle this daunting issue.

• Create a “neutral, competent” organizer — Aviation Workforce Development (AWD) — as the center of excellence and competence to keep track of and continuously press on all parts of the industry and academia to work on this problem.

• AWD would be that catalyst to oversee a national incentive to reach into middle and high school programs with a curriculum that will be fully assessed for effectiveness and function.

• Industry feedback and oversight needed to ensure this new initiative would “change the numbers” for those entering aviation/aerospace career tracks.

Those onboard so far with a seat at the table:

  • AWD Dr. Tara Harl & Board of Directors
  • Boeing Mark Albert, Director Training & Development
  • Jeppesen (to be announced first of year 2013)
  • MAC Mitch Kilian-Director Government Affairs
  • NATCA Vice President, Trish Gilbert
  • NBAA President, Ed Bolen
  • PAMA President, Dale Forton
  • United Airlines Director of Flight Training, Derrin Groubel
  • AOPA President Craig Fuller

For more information: AviationWorkforceDevelopment.org

Dale Forton is president of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA). Find out more about PAMA at PAMA.org


  1. Al Fisher says

    Look, if people dont want to fly a light airplane, then I am pretty sure there will be no need to “fix” the airplane. Yep, wages are an issue for the flight instructors as well as the AMT’s. Got to have something to attract new folks along with great feeling we all get when we leave the surface of our planet. Being part of a Type club, we too have watched membership continue to go down considerably from where it was 10 – 15 years ago. So why is this? Is that not part of the issue here too? Just drive around the airports and look at how many airplanes are unairworthy, flat tires, mold or moss on the wings etc. The folks who fly these light aircraft unfortunately cant or wont pay pay $6.50/ gallon for gas to just fly around on the weekend. I agree, we need the CFI’s and AMT’s to keep this going, so far there is not real attractions money wise to pull them in. Certainly not at the levels of 60’s and 70’s. When I look at all the folks who are attending this summit, I cant see a parting of the clouds and the issues plaguing GA are going to be unearthed and fixed.

  2. Gary says

    You are right on!
    I remember when in the early 70’s that the wages for a qualified aviation mechanic was at the minimum wage of ninety cents an hour and after 90 days I was lucky enough to received 10 cents more per license. That is Airframe and Powerplant, so that got me up to a BIG $ 1 dollar and 10 cents per hour.
    The only thing that helped was that gas was at .15 cents a gallon and you could rent an apartment for $ 60.00 dollars a month.
    Unless the wages go up, with the responsibility that a qualified aviation mechanic accepts every time he or she signs on the dotted line, you are not going to get anyone interested in going down that career path.
    In the late 1980’s, I performed aircraft mechanic examinations as a Designated Mechanic Examiner, and one of the applicants that passed and received an A&P called me a few months later. He said that he was offered a job at Universal Studios working on the people haulers, Trams at a salary of $ 28.00 dollars an hour. He wanted to know if he should take the job, I told him, He’’’’ “yes” you won’t make that kind of money in aviation!
    Every one of these comments that I read are right on “the older generation are retiring but it was because of the love of aviation” that we stuck it out, but you can’t live on dirt wages any more. So, unless the wages increase in proportion to the responsibility there is no reason for the new generation to take up the trade.

  3. says

    Those who express the opinion that CFI’s and pilots in whole on this blog need to get a grip. I understand that we need qualified CFI, and CFII’s to train the pilots, but PAMA is a foundation that promotes qualified Aviation Maintenance Technicians. If the AMT is unqualified, or under qualified, you boys who turn the key to go fly are in serious trouble. We need to get past the “grey hair” issue with the AMT system and get those of us who have been working for 30 plus years on aircraft, so, you could go fly. Keep in mind that there a bunch of companies out there that will not hire us older people, because by hiring older people, the image is that the company is not going to be around for very long. I have been in the industry for 30 years, and I will run circles around the new hires out there. Keep in mind, Oriville and Wilbur would not have flown if the mechanic had not built the machine.

  4. says

    Think Tank? Seriously, you gentlemen need to get together and muse about this, Mr Dale Forton, Mr Craig Fuller, Mr Ed Bolen, Mr Trish Gilbert, just to name a few? Are you folks seriously blind with your eyes wide opened? It starts with starving CFIs, the front liners in aviation, folks that tow the line of industry standards, educators if you will, totally underpaid by business operators who pay them literally pennies, no one can live off petty cash. Teachers are always bitching about how little they’re paid, well, CFIs are paid even less and no one is addressing this issue at all. It should be outlawed, it is a damn crime! Then the regionals hiring on pay that can’t even buy Christmas presents for Johnny let alone pay for rent. Yes, we’re building time but if the wage is liveable, you will not have a shortage in any future I know. Hell, even Chicago Taxi Drivers and Truck Drivers (no offense guys) make enough money to raise a family, and they have minimum required certifications and occupational hazards than any CFIs out there.

  5. Mike Yanez says

    I think this article is addressing how the industry is trying to come up with a clever way to keep the pilot population liquid enough to keep the wages at the low levels that they are already at. Too bad it takes so many industry insiders, leaders, and round tables to ascertain the reality of the most blatant and obvious issues. I look forward to their “recommendations”.

  6. Les Featherston says

    As a retired airline pilot who served his company faithfully for 31 years, and was betrayed by a false bankruptcy (which cost me my pension), I can only say, if there turns out to be a shortage of pilots which cost our economy dearly, so be it! We pilots always followed the rule of the 6 “p’s”; piss poor planning prevents proper performance. I don’t think these “so called” EXPERTS will even get two of them right! Good luck.

    • Gary says

      Right on Les!

      I was forced to buy an airline I didn’t want.. Was told I was going to be a millionaire because of it. I got regular statements showing my stocks worth, and one even said $107,000.00 was mine. I took a huge paycut in order to get that and the company bought 60 Triple Sevens during that time. Then those brillant minds at the top pulled the rug out from under me and claimed bankruptcy and showed my stock was worth $1200 and they cut me a check. TOO BAD SUCKER! Not to mention, the whole time I was receiving all this stock I had to throttle back my 401K contributions because I was exceeding my deffered taxable income amount. Then they sold my pention to the PBGC and now I will be getting 40% les for retirement. What next is up the sleeves of these experts.. Beware!

  7. Kraig Krumm says

    You want more pilots, here’s a wild shot, try paying them what they are worth!!!
    Send me $3,000,000 for the advice!
    Just what we need more ex-spurts telling us what we already know!

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