A survey from a recent Aviation Technician Education Council (AETC) webinar suggests a decline in new Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) enrollments but also shows an increase in innovation as schools transition to distance learning as a result of COVID-19.

An estimated one in five A&P schools are currently suspending operations, with around five schools voicing concern over the long-term viability of their programs given extended school shutdowns. Forty percent of schools expect a decline in anticipated 2020 graduates, by an average of 28 percent, and nearly half of respondents reported an expectation that enrollment will decline by an estimated 31 percent in 2020 and 2021. Respondents expect that 45 percent of 2020 grads will have a job by graduation, which is down 15 points since December.

AETC found that the ability for schools to facilitate completion of lab work is by far the biggest challenge facing A&P programs. While 72 percent of schools are providing at least some content online, none reported the ability to facilitate lab work online, hindering their ability to graduate students. Satisfying FAA requirements is seen as the second biggest challenge for certificated programs.

Over half of programs intend to seek permanent authorization to provide content online, compared to around 3 percent of schools that had distance learning programs before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated school closures.

ATEC is continuing to advocate on behalf of the community to improve inspector guidance and ease restrictions on online training. It is also working with Congress on the passage of the PARTT 147 Act, seeking to replace the current rule with new language.