George Perrin, Moderator of WATS Maintenance Session 3, led a panel discussion that conveyed to an overflowing room of delegates that the US commercial aviation training community has started making important changes in the way regulators and community stakeholders recruit, train and retain its maintenance technicians.

The Senior Manager of Tech Ops Training at Spirit, first invited Jay Hiles, FAA’s Group Manager, Aircraft Maintenance Division, to update the attendees on the new Part 147 Regulations governing aviation maintenance tech schools (AMTS).

In essence, after more than a decade of advocacy by industry stakeholders, the new part 147 ushers in a new approach to aviation technical training, one that provides more freedom and flexibility for educators and their industry partners. Buckle up….the new Part 147 starts the community on the road to some massive changes in the way FAA approves and oversees aviation technical programs.

So, what’s changed? Hiles initially noted there are new quality control procedures in place. FAA has deferred to US Department of Education accreditors in areas concerning quality of education, (approval of curriculums, methods of instructional delivery, and others.) As important, is the approval of performance-based standards (outcomes), moving away from minimum time (hours in classroom seats) requirements. And what about the appropriate use of learning technologies in AMTSs? The FAA manager noted in part, “We’re looking at all of that – AR, others,” and concluded, “We’re performance-based. If we like it, you’re good to go.” 

Justin Madden, Managing Director, Engineering and Maintenance at Airlines for America, noted through a network of committees and industry groups, his association is a powerful advocate for aviation safety and proponent of community segments – maintenance programs and training in this case.

Buck Granier, attending WATS in dual-hatted role – Manager of Technical Training at Alaska Airlines and Chair, A4A’s Maintenance Training Network, pointed out his group has cast a wide net for community stakeholders and includes FAA, MROs, Part 147 organizations and others. Saying his network is being proactive, he then emphasized what’s next on their agenda.

Following the completion of a December 2023 community survey, the members are seeking to solve issues generated by the survey: reduced knowledge, experience and skill levels in workforce accessions; being behind the power curve in adapting modern technology; written procedures are not being followed; and others.

Sean Glassberg, an educator who has extensive experience with part 147 organizations, put down the marker on the imperative to have all workforce generations “train from the same page.”

In one of many efforts to help synchronize diverse learners’ efforts and activities, he offered there are basics in instructional strategies to consider, for example, accessing and encouraging individualized learning, and incorporating common, daily habits, such as the use of social media, in learning. He encouraged the delegates to also be aware of AI/VR, gamification and others and recognize the potential to use them in learning. 

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