Efforts to bolster the certificated aviation mechanic workforce face a pivotal juncture, with the latest research from the Aviation Technical Education Council (ATEC) showing the critical need for growth and diversification.

The newest edition of the Pipeline Report, a collaborative effort between ATEC and Oliver Wyman, underscores the steady yet somewhat slow trajectory of workforce expansion within the U.S. airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic domain. Despite a modest annual increase of 2.3 percent in certificated mechanics over the past five years, commercial aviation alone anticipates a shortfall of 31,000 mechanics by 2031, highlighting a pressing need for strategic interventions.

Accredited aviation maintenance technician schools (AMTS) emerge as pivotal in bridging this gap, yet the report reveals a mere 1.8 percent uptick in new AMTS entrants last year, down from pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, the representation of women in the mechanic workforce remains stagnant, incrementally edging upward.

While military veterans transitioning to civilian maintenance roles show promise with double-digit growth rates, tapping into this reservoir of talent remains a challenge. ATEC estimates that less than 10 percent of veterans with maintenance backgrounds transition to similar civilian roles.

The report underscores awareness gaps as a primary impediment to candidate diversification and enrollment growth, prompting initiatives like Choose Aerospace—a hybrid program facilitating access to aviation maintenance curriculum—to expand into communities through strategic partnerships.

Addressing barriers to completion, including testing apprehension, remains a priority, with ATEC advocating for progressive testing integration into curriculum to streamline the certification process.

ATEC President James Hall emphasized the urgency of cultivating a robust technician pipeline to ensure aircraft safety and operational efficiency.