Vallair Launches New Aircraft Maintenance Training Program

Credit: Vallair

Vallair has invested in a new workforce training initiative to help it fill rapidly growing demand for skilled maintenance technicians.

As part of its efforts to recruit and train 300 mechanics and engineers over the next five years, Vallair has invested in Aircraft Academy, a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 147 training organization based in Douai, France. Aircraft Academy provides online and classroom-based training for Airbus and Boeing mechanics and aircraft engineers.

According to Vallair, the program will allow candidate students to receive theoretical tuition toward their EASA Part 147 license. Students will have access to both online and in-person training, with all practical training provided at Vallair’s Chateauroux and Montpellier facilities. Vallair says students will get hands-on experience with Airbus A320, A330 and Boeing 737NG aircraft, as well as various engine types and aviation sheet metal. It says they will also be eligible for an EASA Part 66 license on these aircraft types.

According to Armel Jezequel, director of Vallair Industry at Chateauroux, the investment will not only serve its strategy of recruiting, training and offering employment to young aircraft technicians and engineers, but it will also provide ongoing developmental training and skill enhancement for its current MRO workforce in France.

The investment follow’s the opening of Vallair’s new Chateauroux maintenance hangar this February. According to Vallair, the new hangar will create nearly 200 jobs in the region.

According to Gregoire Lebigot, CEO and president of Vallair, the company hopes to promote Chateauroux as a center for aviation excellence, in part by demonstrating the amount of skilled talent in the region. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Vallair as well as for the mechanics and engineers of the future,” says Lebigot. “Being able to nurture and support a highly skilled workforce will not only benefit Vallair, but the aviation industry in general.”

While Vallair has not shared financial details about its investment in Aircraft Academy, the school noted the positive impact the program will have on its training programs. “I believe this collaboration will lead to significant transformation and opportunities for our students,” says Stephan Gaworski, CEO of Aircraft Academy. “By having an aviation partner such as Vallair, not only will Aircraft Academy be afforded continued growth, but also direct access to worldwide markets. This is a unique opportunity for us and our students and will make aviation maintenance training more accessible for future generations.”

Jezequel says that although Vallair is targeting 300 students under this program for the first five year, “the Aircraft Academy courses can take many more and Vallair seeks to work with aeronautical businesses of all types who are seeking training facilities.” He adds: “Vallair recognizes that the rate of attrition is likely to be at least 30%, but will be working hard to find ways to attract young people to choose a career in aviation maintenance. Initiatives will be put in place to build career paths, which reward and retain engineers of the future.”

Jezequel says Vallair already supports other aeronautical educational organizations across country with hands-on experience at its MRO facilities, including apprenticeships and fully-paid employment.

According to Jezequel, Vallair has had difficulties finding and retaining skilled technicians—like all other MROs. “The problem in Europe is one of perception. The word mechanic does not appeal to today’s young tech-savvy students,” he says. “Call them technicians, engineers or mechanics—these are essential professionals in a fast-moving, technologically diverse industry. It is not a dirty word.” Jezequel emphasizes that schools and career advisers should do more to explain to students that jobs in aviation maintenance provide good pay and career path opportunities.

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.