North American Airlines Ramp Up Technician Recruiting Efforts

Credit: Spartan College

Two North American airlines are expanding efforts to recruit their future maintenance technician workforces by launching new education and training programs. Both JetBlue and SkyWest Airlines have launched programs modeled after their established pilot career path programs.

“As travel rebounds and we prepare for growth from our Northeast Alliance with American Airlines, we need to ensure a pipeline of qualified pilots and technicians over the next several years,” says Warren Christie, head of safety, security and fleet operations, JetBlue.

JetBlue recently expanded its JetBlue Gateways programs for education and training to include paths for future aviation maintenance technicians (AMT). Current JetBlue crewmembers are being offered two options to leave their current positions at the airline and pursue AMT careers. Under the Direct - Tech Ops program, qualified applicants will study at JetBlue partner Aviator College, which offers an AMT program at its campus in Kissimmee, Florida. Meanwhile, applicants to its Flex-Tech Ops program can choose their own location for training within a defined framework.

“These programs open the door to training, but one of the biggest hurdles for our crewmembers is often the cost of education,” says Christie. “We don’t want money to be the roadblock for crewmembers who dream of being a pilot or technician.”

Christie says JetBlue has established partnerships with financial institutions, under which the airline backs most or all of a candidate’s student loans to make financing more accessible.

JetBlue’s primary Gateway class of maintenance technicians will start training in 2022. It launched its first pilot training class in August and its next class of pilot candidates will start training in January 2022.

Earlier this year, SkyWest Airlines partnered with Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology to launch a Pathway program for pilots. Now, SkyWest and Spartan have partnered to launch a new SkyWest Aviation Maintenance Technician Pathway.

“Spartan is well known for producing skilled aviation professionals and we are excited to partner with them to provide this groundbreaking new Pathway for aspiring SkyWest technicians,” says Bill Dyke, senior vice president of maintenance, Skywest. “Together with Spartan, we are providing a structured Pathway, as well as financial assistance, and many SkyWest benefits as students complete their education.”

According to SkyWest, these benefits include mentoring by experienced mechanics, enhanced company seniority and up to $4,500 in education assistance earned at credit hour benchmarks. Participants are also guaranteed a final job interview with the airline after graduation.

Spartan offers technician training at its campuses in Denver, Los Angeles, Tulsa and Inland Empire, California. The school says it has trained more than 100,000 pilots and technicians since it was established in 1928.

JetBlue and SkyWest are not the only North American airlines actively pursuing workforce initiatives. In November Republic Airways launched a new maintenance career progression program and in July Alaska Airlines partnered with AAR to launch an AMT training program. UPS also recently partnered with MRO provider ST Engineering to launch a skills progression program.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.