FAA Awards MRO Workforce Development Grants

An ATS apprentice learning drilling skills

ATS plans to use FAA grant funding to create apprenticeship pand training programs.

Credit: ATS

The FAA has awarded $5 million in grants aimed at helping the aviation industry grow its MRO workforce pipeline. The agency recently chose 11 grant recipients under its Aviation Maintenance Technical Workers Workforce Development program, which seeks to help attract and train students for careers as aviation maintenance technicians.

The program is funded as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, through which Congress has appropriated $5 million annually since 2020. Congress has approved the program through the end of fiscal year 2023. Grant funding can be used to establish new educational outreach programs, provide scholarships or apprenticeships, conduct outreach about MRO careers or to support aviation maintenance-related opportunities in economically disadvantaged areas.

This year, grant recipients include a mix of publicly owned schools, for-profit schools and aviation maintenance companies. Recipients received between $280,000-$500,000 each.

The schools chosen this year include Cape Cod Community College, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Lincoln Land Community College, Nashua Community College, Pearl River Community College, San Luis Obispo County Community College District, Tarrant County College District, Technical Education Services Inc (which does business as the Aviation Institute of Maintenance) and The Fulton Leadership Academy. Two independent MROs, Aviation Technical Services (ATS) and FEAM Aero, were also chosen.

FEAM, which received $500,000, plans to use the funding to identify new resources for recruitment and expedited training, focusing specifically on transitioning military veterans. Funding will also be used to launch an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) school at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) in partnership with Epic Flight Academy, including offering scholarships to underserved applicants.

FEAM first partnered with Epic Flight Academy in early 2022, launching a workforce pipeline program through the school’s new aircraft mechanic program that provides tuition assistance and a direct employment pathway. The new A&P school at CVG, which is set to break ground in April, will likely feed the workforce pipeline for FEAM’s growing facilities at the airport. FEAM broke ground on a second hangar at CVG in late 2022, which is planned for completion by the end of 2023.

ATS, meanwhile, was awarded just under $460,000 to create apprenticeship and training programs. The company is aiming the programs at supporting new, unskilled and displaced workers, as well as military veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce. ATS trains apprentices internally through its ATS Academy.

One of the academic grant recipients poised to benefit significantly is the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM), which was awarded $431,200. It plans to use the funding to bolster both its high school dual-enrollment programs and its veteran training. According to AIM, the funding will support expansion of its Veterans Resource Center in Norfolk, Virginia and its Professional Military Certification program on military bases. It will also be used to establish dual-enrollment programs in tandem with Norfolk Public Schools, Richmond Public Schools and what AIM says are additional school systems in the region looking to offer career and technical pathways in aviation.

AIM will also benefit from $500,000 in funding granted to Fulton Leadership Academy, a public charter school for boys in Georgia that is focused on STEM education. Fulton Leadership Academy plans to use the grant funding to create an aviation maintenance technician program that expands on AIM’s existing program at the school. The new program will focus on educating students from underrepresented communities and communities of color.

“The FAA’s generosity will allow AIM [to] be able to expand youth and veteran programming in meaningful ways. We will be able to teach high school students from disadvantaged areas in Virginia and beyond, helping them begin their careers in aviation maintenance starting in 10th or 11th grade, at no cost to students, local school systems or their communities,” says Joel English, executive vice president of AIM. He adds that the grant will also help AIM “provide an expeditious pathway to FAA certification for our veterans.”

In addition to the MRO-focused grants, the FAA also awarded $5 million in grants to attract and train students for pilot careers.

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 AviationWeek.com, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.