“The aviation industry is currently seeing a workforce shortage for qualified aircraft technicians as the number of retiring certified airframe technicians is higher than the number of young adults expressing interest in the field of aircraft mechanics,” says Todd Duncan, chairman of Duncan Aviation in a recent news release. “In response, Duncan Aviation is educating young adults about the joys of choosing business aviation as a career and looking at new and different ways to introduce talented and motivated individuals to the company and the industry.”
The news about the workforce shortage shouldn’t have caught you off guard.
While Duncan Aviation has offered apprenticeships or full-time careers that include on-the-job training and instruction, to interested candidates for the last few years, there was no formal instruction program in place.
Though the previous apprentice program “was successful, we identified areas of theoretical and practical training that would yield better results through standardization,” said Jeremy Rangel, Duncan Aviation Airframe Manager. “That is exactly what we did, working with the US Department of Labor and the Nebraska Department of Labor. We now have a true pathway to help new team members become knowledgeable, well-rounded aircraft technicians.”
At a ceremony on Nov. 14, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska, the United States Department of Labor officially recognized the Duncan Aviation Apprenticeship Program. It is also registered with the United States Department of Education.
According to Lori Johnson, Duncan Aviation’s Marketing Communications Manager, the program took about a year to put together and included “three senior aircraft mechanics/trainers and our airframe manager, who spent many hours developing the program with input from our professional development team, current and former apprentices and a contact from the Nebraska Department of Labor.”
And if you happen to think Duncan is blasting into uncharted waters, think again. According to Ric Peri’s excellent column “The sky is falling!” in the October 2019 edition of Avionics News, “the concept of an apprenticeship is fully supported by the [FAA and EASA] regulations.”
“The Registered Apprenticeship Program at Duncan Aviation is designed to provide those who enroll in it a streamlined and focused approach to training for the FAA Airframe Technician certificate,” noted Matt Stolz, Duncan Aviation Airframe Shift Supervisor.
Duncan employs more than 280 airframe technicians at its Lincoln, Nebraska, Battle Creek, Michigan, and Provo, Utah locations.
Best of all, 24 apprentices are currently employed, full-time with benefits, by Duncan Aviation while they learn and prepare for their Airframe Technician certification test. In fact, Duncan Aviation covers the cost of tuition, certification testing, as well as study materials and on-line prep software.
“We anticipate this will be an ongoing program and that we will have a constantly rotating group of apprentices at all three facilities,” noted Johnson.
This first program represents the A in A&P. Duncan Aviation is also looking to create a Powerplant Technician apprenticeship program, which will represent the P in A&P Mechanic.
There is more than one path to a fulfilling, in-demand career.