When it comes to solutions to the maintenance technician shortage, Gulfstream Aerospace is working on a variety of solutions.

The Savannah, Georgia-based company is involved in student schooling, starting with elementary- and grade-school programs in which students in grades as low as the fifth are urged to study science, aerospace and aviation, in the hope that this will spark a lifelong love of aviation.

Gulfstream participates in an internship program and has developed relationships with local colleges and universities at all its locations, said Gulfstream spokesperson Heidi Fedak. “We work with vocational schools to ensure continued talent development and continued movement forward.

“Our team also works closely with Women in Aviation International and Girls Engineering, and there is an Aviation Day girls’ run that includes a tour of Gulfstream and Air National Guard airplanes after the race, added Fedak.” Gulfstream is also involved in a run sponsored by the local Society of Women Engineers. In addition to a tour of airplanes afterward, female pilots participate in support of the program.

For the past 10 years, Gulfstream has sponsored a Student Leadership Program and has expanded it from Savannah to facilities in Appleton, Wisconsin, and Dallas. “We mentor them and teach soft skills that will generate an interest in furthering their education and pursuing a vocation, hopefully in aviation,” said Fedak.

While the pilot shortage gets the most headlines, industry insiders insist there is an equally important shortage of aircraft maintenance technicians, more formally referred to as airframe and powerplant technicians (A&Ps), but it extends as well to Advanced Aircraft Systems technicians.

Maintenance, repair and overhaul specialist StandardAero is already feeling pressure from the shortage of maintenance technicians. “Developing, finding and hiring skilled technicians is one of the biggest challenges we collectively face in the MRO industry,” said Kyle Hultquist, senior vice president of marketing and communications.

StandardAero is a $3 billion-a-year business. Its recently opened repair facility in Cincinnati is expected to double its capacity and see rapid growth into 2018 and beyond. When fully operational, it expects to employ 200 to 300 technicians, and at the end of September it had 70 new positions open. 

The company’s efforts to develop technicians range from apprenticeship programs with local colleges to mentoring students at various trade schools, to internships in its repair shops. StandardAero is also helping local community colleges develop programs and occupational standards to establish certification programs for A&P mechanics and other technicians.

“While currently sufficient, the pipeline for our future technical workforce development is a concern and we are going to need additional people,” declared Hultquist. “We have sufficient tools, machines and facilities, but the constraining issue in the future is going to be qualified technicians.”