Author: R.Esquivel

Lockheed-Airbus venture ups the pressure on Boeing to deliver its US Air Force tankers

WASHINGTON and COLOGNE, Germany — Lockheed Martin and Airbus have agreed to develop a new aerial-refueling service aimed at the U.S. Air Force, upping the pressure on incumbent Boeing to deliver its KC-46 tankers on time.

The two companies, industry behemoths on each side of the Atlantic, hailed the pact for combining Airbus’s A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) plane with Lockheed Martin’s systems-integration expertise and “presence” on the U.S. defense market. In essence, the joint venture could provide Airbus with another bite at the massive Air Force air-tanking apple after rival Boeing won the bid to build a fleet of new aircraft in 2011.

“The companies are taking a cooperative approach, with the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) at its heart, to examine a broad spectrum of opportunities,” reads a Dec. 4 joint Lockheed-Airbus statement. “These may range from ways to support critical near-term air-refueling needs, such as a fee-for-service structure to conceptualizing the tanker of the future.

The partnership comes as the Air Force is eager to get more tanking assets to meet the demands of the new U.S. National Defense Strategy. In September, the service announced that it will need at least 14 additional tanker squadrons by 2030.

The Air Force plans to buy 179 KC-46 tankers from Boeing so that it can begin phasing out older models, but the company has missed key delivery dates multiple times — most recently this October. And even after Boeing begins delivering planes at a steady clip, there may be a requirement for more than a hundred new tankers beyond the KC-46 program of record.

One thing to watch will be whether the Air Force is amenable to the proposed fee-for-service model involving planes from outside its own fleet.

On one hand, the service has gotten more comfortable in paying companies for flying hours used to help accomplish critical missions where there is an aircraft shortfall, said Doug Birkey, executive director of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. One example is the forthcoming deals with private companies to provide aircraft and pilots posing as enemies during air-battle drills, which are anticipated to be awarded next year.Sign up for our Military Space Report
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But on the other hand, “in the scheme of acquisition and the Department of Defense, the KC-46 is really not doing that bad at all,” Birkey said.A

The Boeing-made tanker has encountered yet another set of issues.By: Valerie Insinna

Richard Aboulafia, a defense analyst with the Teal Group, argued the Airbus-Lockheed agreement makes a lot of sense.

However, it comes with two huge questions: Who pays for the planes that are used to fly missions for the U.S. Air Force, and what kind of a contract is the Lockheed-Airbus team expecting?

“Airbus and Lockheed [could] team up to take that risk. Lockheed is not famous for taking commercial risks. Quite the opposite,” Aboulafia said.

Another confusing note is the companies’ stated desire to begin “conceptualizing the tanker of the future,” according to the news release. Lockheed and Airbus have different core competencies — Airbus as a massive producer of commercial airliners able to divert that technology to low-risk solutions, and Lockheed as a developer of cutting-edge, military-specific aircraft, Aboulafia said.

If the Air Force’s future tanker is a “stealthy, high-tech military aircraft, then Lockheed certainly doesn’t need Airbus,” he said. If the partnership is to build the KC-Y, another airliner-based tanker to follow the KC-46, Airbus has a lot of technology to bring to the table, “but I’m not sure what’s in it for Lockheed.”

AirlineRatings names ‘most excellent’ airlines for 2018

Air New Zealand gets regular kudos for innovating everything from in-flight services to safety videos, its funky films featuring Hobbits and other famous Kiwis.
And now, for the fifth consecutive year, the carrier has come out on top in the annual Airline Excellence Awards, created by Australia-based aviation safety and product rating agency AirlineRatings.
Celebrating the best in the aviation industry — from budget operators to culinary champions — the awards named Air New Zealand as Airline of the Year for 2018.
“Air New Zealand came out number one — or equal first — in all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance,” the AirlineRatings judging panel said.

In-flight product

Air New Zealand won AirlineRatings' "Airline of the Year" award.

Air New Zealand won AirlineRatings’ “Airline of the Year” award.
Courtesy Air New Zealand From AirlineRatings
The awards take into account four major international industry and government safety audits as well as fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment ratings and key product offerings.
“We also look to see if the airline is an innovator trying new things to improve the passenger experience,” says Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of AirlineRatings.com.
In the premium stakes, Singapore Airlines took top spot for First Class — the airline’s name being “synonymous with excellence of in-flight product,” according to AirlineRatings.
Best Business Class went to Virgin Australia for the second consecutive year —
Virgin’s “The Business” suite is a luxurious offering — unrivaled by other executive options.
AirlineRatings also reviewed the economy options — Air New Zealand won Best Premium Economy, whilst Best Economy went to Korean Air in recognition of its spacious seats.
“Our editorial team places significant importance on premium economy on a long-haul airline,” says Thomas. “It is without doubt the best value proposition for the passenger and airline.
Australian airline Qantas also had a good run, winning Best Catering, Best Lounges and Best Domestic Class.

Seven-star safety

Singapore First Class (2)

Singapore Airlines took the top spot for First Class.
Courtesy Singapore Airlines From AirlineRatings
Alongside the Airline Excellence Award winners, AirlineRatings announced its Top 10 airlines for 2018.
The carriers named in the round-up have a seven-star safety rating and have demonstrated their innovation, according to AirlineRatings.
”Whether number one or number 10 these airlines are the best of the best — the elite in aviation,” the judging team commented. “They are the trendsetters and the benchmark by which all others are judged.”
Related content
AirlineRatings says its judging team includes experts who’ve been assessing the world of aviation for 20 years.
While the top airline list favors antipodean carriers, Thomas insists the process is “objective and not open to abuse,” with criteria assessed carefully and combined into a spreadsheet to arrive at the award-winners.
Related content

AirlineRatings.com‘s top 10 airlines for 2018

1. Air New Zealand
2. Qantas Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. Virgin Australia
5. Virgin Atlantic
6. Etihad Airways
7. All Nippon Airways
8. Korean Air
9. Cathay Pacific Airways
10. Japan Airlines

EASA orders safety checks of AW169, AW189 tail rotors

Operators of Leonardo AW169 and AW189 helicopters have been ordered to conduct immediate inspections of their tail rotors in the wake of a fatal AW169 crash in Leicester, England, on Oct. 27.

The AW169 helicopter was a familiar sight at the stadium.

The AW169 helicopter that crashed in Leicester was a familiar sight at King Power Stadium. Pete White Photo

In an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) issued on Nov. 7, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) called for AW169 and AW189 operators to check for correct installation of the tail rotor servo-actuator within five flight hours or 24 hours, whichever occurs first.

The AD was prompted by the crash of an AW169 owned by Leicester City Football Club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha as it departed from King Power Stadium following a match. Bystander video showed the aircraft performing a vertical takeoff from the field, then spinning out of control before transitioning into forward flight.

The aircraft crashed outside of the stadium and burst into flames, killing all five people on board, including Srivaddhanaprabha.

The United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is conducting an investigation into the accident, “the root cause of which has not been identified,” according to the EASA AD.

However, as a precautionary measure, manufacturer Leonardo Helicopters issued an emergency alert service bulletin (ASB) for AW169s, instructing operators to check for correct installation of the tail rotor servo-actuator. Subsequently, Leonardo issued an ASB with the same instructions for AW189 helicopters, which have a similar tail rotor design.

The EASA AD requires operators to comply with the instructions of the applicable ASB. “The incorrect installation of the [tail rotor] servo-actuator, if not detected and corrected, depending on the flight condition, could possibly result in loss of control of the helicopter,” the AD states

Operators who discover damage or other findings during the inspection of the tail rotor servo-actuator are required to contact Leonardo for approved instructions. Operators with no findings are instructed to “apply a paint mark on the nut from the rod end to the hinge bracket element in accordance with the instructions of the applicable ASB.”

The AAIB has yet to issue an interim report on its investigation into the Leicester accident. In its last updateon Nov. 2, the agency reported that it was able to successfully download recordings from the aircraft’s digital flight recorder.

“Our inspectors are verifying the extracted information and have started the detailed analysis of its contents,” the agency stated.

Airbus Helicopters to open new MRO complex in Japan

hangar3

Airbus Helicopters is set to open a new maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) complex near its current facility at Kobe Airport in Japan.

The company is expected to start construction next June and plans to commission the facility next November.

Airbus’ existing Kobe Airport Facility can concurrently accommodate up to 25 medium-sized helicopters and includes the company’s regional engineering hub.

It is also equipped with a full-motion full-flight helicopter simulator, which has provided training to more than 500 pilots and engineers across Japan.

Airbus’ proposed complex is set to expand its presence in the country and will enable the company to become the largest aviation business at the Kobe Airport with a total space of 19,685m².

“We have been building up our capabilities in Kobe over the years and believe the site offers a lot of growth potential.”

The facility will include a hangar, an administration office and a purpose-built warehouse.

It is expected to increase Airbus Helicopters’ overall capacity by 60% to handle nearly 40 medium-sized helicopters simultaneously.

Airbus Helicopters Japan managing director Olivier Tillier said: “Japan is an important market for Airbus Helicopters. This additional facility is part of our growth plan in the country and demonstrates our commitment to strengthening our support for our customers’ fleets while responding to their increasing demand for aftersale support services.

“We have been building up our capabilities in Kobe over the years and believe the site offers a lot of growth potential.

“With a larger capacity, we will be able to offer our complete suite of support and services to our customers, spanning after-sales customer support, MRO, engineering, technical support, simulator training and warehousing.”

Since 1961, Airbus Helicopters Japan has delivered more than 440 helicopters to operators and customers in the country.

The company aims to boost its market position in accordance with Japan’s projected fleet growth of 2% per annum over the next 20 years.

The Next Boeing 787? China And Russia Spending $20 Billion To Compete With Aircraft By Mid 2020’s

CR929-mock-up

A joint effort between Russia and China is aiming to create a brand new aircraft to compete with Boeing and Airbus. The $20 billion project sees Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China working together. The new aircraft was unveiled as a life-size model at China’s biannual airshow. The CR929 would be comprised of a fuselage designed by China, and wings designed by Russia. The co-operative venture between the two countries has been called the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation, or CRAIC for short.

CR929
A model of the CR929 displayed at the Paris Air Show. Photo: Marc Lacoste

Airbus Boeing Competitor

The new aircraft is being designed to compete with Airbus and Boeing, notably the A350 and B787. CRAIC is hoping that the aircraft could take its first flight some time in 2023. This represents a two year delay from the originally estimated 2021 first flight date. In turn this would allow for introduction between 2025 and 2028. UAC, the Russian entity, believes that 8,000 wide body aircraft will be needed by 2033, including a significant number for China. The current aim set by CRAIC is to claim 10% of the wide body market. The company will achieve this by making the aircraft 10-15% cheaper to run than its competitors.

CR929
A life-size mock up of the CR929.

Life-size Model Unveiled

Now CRAIC has unveiled a life-size model of the CR929. The model was unveiled at the Zhuhai Airshow taking place in China between 6th and 11th November. The company held a ceremony to unveil the design which was attended by senior executives from both the Chinese and Russian components of CRAIC. At the ceremony, UAC’s President Yury Slyusar told how the project is making good progress.

“Our program is making progress and is on schedule. It is currently in the preliminary design phase and we are also in the supplier and equipment selection phase, which will finish by the end of 2019.

As the project is still in the supplier and equipment selection phase, much of the cockpit of the model was comprised of generic equipment, however, a key design detail was given away. Instead of opting for the control column traditionally favoured by Boeing, the aircraft has been designed with a side stick, similar to Airbus.

CR929
Inside the CR929 model.

One Of Many New Aircraft

The CR929 is one of many new aircraft being designed by China to compete with the traditional manufacturers. Comac, the Chinese part of the CRAIC duo, is designing a number of different aircraft. Their first jet, the ARJ21 has been in service since June 2016. The C919, a medium range narrow body aircraft, took its first flight in May 2017. The first delivery of this aircraft is planned for 2021, followed by the 929.

What do you think of the CR929? Will the project be delivered to schedule? Let us know in the comments below!

Airbus needs more than 200 aircraft deliveries in two months to meet 2018 goal

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Airbus went full throttle on aircraft deliveries in October, handing over 81 commercial jets to customers last month.

But, after having been hit by supplier disruptions earlier in the year that it continues to wrestle with, that still leaves the European manufacturer plenty of work to do in the final two months of the year to reach its target for the year.

Airbus finished October with 584 deliveries, meaning it still has 216 to go to reach its goal of 800 deliveries for 2018.

The company said last week as part of its latest earnings report that it was still targeting 800 deliveries, although that goal would now include the 18 deliveries of A220 jets it expects to make.

That is the jet that was previously the Bombardier C Series, with Airbus closing on its majority stake in the program in July.

Of the October deliveries, 48 were from the A320neo line that has been hampered by delays from engine suppliers.

Airbus’ rival, the Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), hasn’t yet released its October delivery numbers. It has also dealt with supplier disruptions, but finished September with 568 deliveries on the year so far.

Boeing also ended September with 631 net orders. That means it will still have a comfortable lead on that metric, as Airbus reported 340 net orders through the end of October.

Between Spirit AeroSystems Inc. (NYSE: SPR), other local commercial aerospace manufacturers and Airbus Americas Engineering, Wichita has a role in the design, production and support of all of the aircraft in the two companies’ combined commercial product lines.

Pratt Begins Connected Factory Trials in Singapore

Efficiency increases and productivity boosts driving the OEM’s digital project.

601x339-PW-GTF-engine-pic-2

Pratt & Whitney began trials of its Connected Factory concept Nov. 5 at the company’s MRO facility in Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park.

The engine manufacturer’s digital transformation initiative aims to increase efficiency and boost productivity using customized off-the-shelf software developed by Dassault Systèmes.

The project will include a “lighthouse” cell in the repair shop, implementation of intelligent scheduling and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) metrics, software adoption and sensor installation.

“This will give us good analytics on how the machines are running” and help prevent potential breakdowns, Pratt SD-aftermarket operations Asia Pacific Brendon McWilliam said.

The system, already in use at the company’s manufacturing plant in Connecticut, “will allow us to put engine parts through the most efficient flow and to cut down on bottlenecks,” McWilliam said.

The initial trial, including setup, will last about three months, followed by a six-month study of the relevant data.

Pratt plans to roll out the system to the remaining four facilities in Singapore by 2020 and at the company’s shops in New Zealand and China beginning in 2021.

Pratt has plans for the full digitalization of the shop floor with other initiatives, such as automated digital measurement, paperless work orders and digital material management, McWilliam said.

“A lot of companies are now looking at digital transformation and people are curious to see how these transformations will affect the end user,” he said.

UTAS, Lufthansa Technink Team Up On PW1100G Component Repairs

Deal expands cooperation between the two companies across Airbus, Boeing platforms.

DLH-A320-neo-HOWARTH

UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) and Lufthansa Technik (LHT) are teaming up to support each other’s aftermarket businesses for certain Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM components, agreeing to a “life-of-program” component-service agreement for parts supplied by UTAS, the companies will announce.

Under the deal, set to be unveiled Nov. 8, LHT will develop repairs for certain UTAS-supplied engine accessories, while the supplier will provide parts and repair services to LHT. The agreement covers specific accessories for the Airbus A320neo engines, including the integrated fuel pump and control, the electronic engine control, and the air turbine starter.

The agreement will see UTAS using the LHT-developed repairs in its shops, while the German MRO provider will leverage UTAS’s parts-supply and component-repair services to support its customer base. UTAS and Pratt are both part of United Technologies.

“Our customers will benefit greatly as we combine Lufthansa Technik’s maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities with the design knowledge of UTC Aerospace Systems,” said LHT executive board chairman Johannes Bussmann. “Just like with the classic engine option, Lufthansa Technik will soon be able to repair A320neo line replaceable units in-house, including the engines.”

Tim White, UTAS president, electric, and environmental & engine systems, called the deal “a great opportunity for two companies to leverage each other’s knowledge, expertise and technology and work together to develop improved solutions that enhance the overall customer experience.”

Such deals are part of the growing trend of major suppliers teaming with MRO providers to broaden service offerings, gain access to more customers, and, increasingly, strengthen their positions against Airbus and Boeing, which are both creeping into the aftermarket space. In this agreement, LHT gains access to UTAS parts and repair data. In exchange, UTAS has one of the top MRO providers developing cost-effective repairs that it can use in its own shops.

The deal also extends the cooperation between the two large suppliers of new parts and aftermarket services. In 2017, LHT chose UTAS’s Aircraft Interface Device as part of an evaluation for sister company Lufthansa German Airlines, which is installing the units on its A320s. UTAS’s Aerostructures business also has a deal with LHT that supports the MRO provider’s Airbus A350 nacelle repair services. The companies have had aftermarket-support agreements in place for 787 components since 2011. LHT also is an official partner in Pratt’s PW1100G-JM overhaul network.

More And Smarter Sensors Are Coming

MR-SENSOR_ATR
Could the aviation industry be getting close to finding the holy grail of sensors, monitoring aircraft structures?

The age of predictive maintenance and big data is just beginning, and the future will see aircraft generating ever more data, with more plentiful and smarter sensors and monitoring systems. This will be true for engines— where data collection began—and across a wide variety of aircraft components and possibly airframe structures that so far have been the most difficult components to monitor. New sensor connections, wireless or transmissible directly to communication buses, are also possible.

Esterline makes sensors for several aircraft components including engines, which are the most hostile sensing environment, according to James Ewing, vice president of engineering for advanced sensors. One major goal is to handle the increasing temperatures and pressures to which engine sensors are subject.

Engine OEMs are increasing pressures and temperatures to boost fuel efficiency, and Esterline must make sure its sensors can take the added punishment in engine hot sections, often by using exotic new materials and expensive alloys.

Engines on new-model aircraft will require sensors that support efficiency, safety and possibly new architectures for Full Authority Digital Engine Control, or FADEC systems. New engine sensors will have “less drift, longer life and better accuracy,” Ewing predicts. Engine-makers will want and even require sensors that are “fit and forget.”

MR-SENSORS_Meggitt

Sensors can monitor a range of engine parameters, as shown

Reducing drift means reducing some sensors’ tendency for performance degradation over time; for example, expressing an increased metric even when true engine performance is unchanged. Reliable accuracy from sensors will allow engines to be operated under the most efficient conditions, without fear that deterioration goes undetected.

Some sensors in hot sections are now replaced every five or six years. Airlines would like to lengthen or eliminate these replacement cycles entirely.

Future Sensors

Wireless sensors are used chiefly for testing engines under development, when a lot of data points are needed. In the future, to reduce weight and space used for wiring, sensors may transmit data wirelessly on operating engines. Wireless sensors need to harvest energy or tap local power sources. Engines generate powerful vibrations, but the challenge is to convert vibrations into usable power for sensors.

Another change might be distributing FADEC so sensors will need shorter connections. Rolls-Royce is considering dividing up FADEC into separate parts, which would reduce the amount of wiring needed to connect sensors.

Ewing expects sensors also will serve new uses. For example, for engine efficiency, sensors could measure turbine-blade clearances. The gap between tip and case determines air leakage and thus engine efficiency.

For safety purposes, sensors might measure the timing of turbine-blade tips. Changes in spinning speed or vibration could flag a bird strike or other foreign object damage that creates a risk to aircraft safety.

Ewing believes increased aircraft reliance on electric power will require sensors for battery health monitoring.

In the future, both more and different types of aircraft sensors likely will be required, says Lucas Sendra, Meggitt business development manager. Meggitt products include brakes, fire controls, bleed air valves, heat exchangers, fuel systems, engine components and sensing systems.

New technologies like optical and surface acoustic-wave sensing will enable new parameters to be monitored, he predicts. And more-electric aircraft will require new sensors to monitor electric motor performance. “Future monitoring systems will combine legacy sensors, smart and wireless sensors and new sensing technologies,” he says.

For example, Meggitt is working with Airbus and Textron on wireless tire-pressure monitoring systems that can transmit data up to 50 m (164 ft.), so mechanics won’t have to crawl around landing gear checking tire pressure.

Curtiss-Wright makes sensors for engine-fuel control, flight controls and critical-condition monitoring. The company is seeing more sensors being deployed for safety, efficiency, situational and health monitoring. “One of the strongest drivers . . . including retrofits, is . . . safety monitoring such as slat-skew, stall, engine-cowling position or thrust-reverser deployment,” says Graham Macdonald, senior vice president of sensors and controls. Curtiss-Wright recently delivered a suite of slat-skew detection sensors, placed on individual slats to increase accuracy.

Sensors typically interface with local control systems or data concentrators, which then interface with the communications bus. In many cases, sensors could eventually interface directly with the bus. Macdonald expects wireless sensors to become more attractive, especially in flight-test instruments and noncritical applications.

Airframe Sensors

The holy grail of health monitoring has been monitoring aircraft structures. This goal may be getting a little closer with Structural Monitoring Systems’ Comparative Vacuum Monitoring (CVM). CVM can test structural health on the ground, replacing time-consuming visual inspections.

CVM uses Teflon tape that has elastomeric sensors with fine channels etched in the adhesive face. The tape is applied to an aircraft, explains Richard Poutier, vice president for business development at Structural Monitoring Systems.

During an inspection, equipment draws a vacuum over several channels of the tape. If there are any surface cracks, channels will leak air, and the equipment will detect the leak and pinpoint the crack location.

CVM has been proven to work on aluminum structures and is being tested on composites. It can be retrofitted on any structure on which mechanics can lay the tape and has been approved to check the health of wingboxes on the Boeing 737. One U.S. airline has installed the tape on seven 737s and used it for 120 inspections. Several others are evaluating it.

“CVM has been accepted by Boeing and included as an alternative method of compliance,” Poutier explains. “It avoids ripping up floorboards and taking out seats to inspect the wingbox.” He estimates CVM has saved $150,000 in lost revenue per aircraft during a heavy check by speeding up inspections.

Structural now offers CVM for inspections required by airworthiness directives and service bulletins. Longer term, it wants to deploy the technology for routine inspections. Eventually, it might be used to monitor inflight structural health.

CVM can detect surface cracks and measure their length. Only eddy current inspections can at present detect subsurface cracks. Poutier says OEMs may learn to judge structural integrity by surface cracks and run a CVM test every 500 cycles to remain confident about the safety of components.

The natural next step is to install CVM as a line fit in new aircraft. According to Poutier, several OEMs are now considering this.

Aviation Technician Shortage is a Gathering Storm, Although There are Solutions on the Horizon

A new report finds that while 30 percent of the aviation mechanics workforce is at or near retirement age, new entrants into the field only make up 2 percent of the workforce population each year.

The report from the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) found that while there are more than 286,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanics, 27 percent of the workforce is aged 64 and above.

The large gap between the demand for trained workers and the number of new employees entering the aviation mechanics industry is problematic.

Boeing projects in its 2016 Pilot and Technician Outlook that 679,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to maintain the world’s airlines over the next 20 years. Airlines in North America specifically will require 127,000 maintenance personnel, the report said.

According to the ATEC report, enrollment in all Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) schools totals nearly 17,800, but the program’s capacity is more than 34,000. And while A&P program capacity has increased by 2 percent in the last 18 months, enrollment has decreased by 2 percent.

Steve Sabold, director of admissions at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA), said certified mechanics are an industry necessity.

“Every aircraft that goes up in the air needs to be signed off on by an A&P certified mechanic,” Sabold said in an interview with Transportation Today. “That alone makes them, once they get their certification, a very hot commodity.”

But getting young people into the program may be difficult because of a larger issue that affects all skilled trade positions.

“There’s not a lot of people going into skilled trades period,” Sabold said. “When you have less people going into skilled trades across the board, it certainly doesn’t help us fill up our pipeline any quicker.”

Meeting that demand, Boeing said, will require educational outreach, career pipeline programs, and other innovative solutions. ATEC suggests a focus on strategies to increase the number of female candidates, where currently they make up just 2.3 percent of the certified mechanic workforce.

Improving the retention of graduates of AMT schools is another critical factor. AMT school respondents who were surveyed by ATEC estimate that 20 percent of graduates pursue careers outside of aviation, and just 60 percent take the FAA test for mechanic certification.

Dan Cooper, vice president of economic development and governmental affairs with Tri County Technical College in South Carolina, said the attitudes of parents can also add to the problem of engaging students in the skilled trades.

“A lot of the parents want their kids to be more successful than they were,” Cooper said. “They have no idea that these jobs have the potential to make six-figure salaries. People consider skilled trades jobs to be dirty or only for those who aren’t as smart. But that’s just not the case.”

The decreased enrollment in aviation mechanics may also be due to the experience of the students themselves.

“I think there is less exposure for young adults in utilizing skilled trades today,” Sabold said. “As technology has advanced, I don’t think young adults see the people doing the hands-on work that is necessary, and because of that may not think of aviation mechanics as a career option.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, aviation mechanics make a median salary of $60,270 per year, as of 2016.

Aviation companies, Sabold said, are working to get more young adults into AMT programs.

“Aviation companies are being proactive about getting into the schools, even as early as middle school and changing the mentality of students,” he said. “They are starting to step up and help others see the benefit of a certified aviation mechanic career.”

For example, this month both Piedmont Airlines and Constant Aviation will participate in open house events at PIA to reach out to potential students about careers in aviation mechanics. Piedmont Airlines is owned by American Airlines and operates hubs in Philadelphia and Charlotte Douglas International Airports. Constant Aviation, with locations at airports in Cleveland, Orlando, Phoenix and Las Vegas, specializes in airframe and engine maintenance, major repairs and avionics.

“Open Houses give PIA the opportunity to deliver critical information about career demand,” said Suzanne Markle, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, in a written statement. “That we are hosting events with such a large number of companies in comparison to the number of upcoming graduates attending is a strong indicator of career demand.”

PIA offers programs in aviation maintenance and aviation electronics. PIA’s campuses in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Hagerstown and Myrtle Beach have been selected as four of approximately 40 aircraft maintenance schools to partner with Delta Air Lines.

“We look forward to the opportunity to serve new students and prepare them with the entry-level mechanic skills we know our employers are looking for,” Markle added.