07 May 2012

Bad Economy, Tough Times, but wait … Why isn’t that so in aviation?

Jeremy-BandW-small-300x224Spartan has always maintained a leadership position is the aerospace community and when times were tough in the past the majority of the graduates were still able to find career positions that were based upon the knowledge and skill they learned during their time in Tulsa at Spartan. These days it seems that the rush is on for quality trained pilots and technicians even though we are living in some very challenging times.

In the header of this article I mentioned the “bad economy” but we aren’t feeling the effects of the economy so much in aviation. The reasons are many: 1) The global demand is strong 2) Technology keeps moving forward 3) Record Retirements 4) Stronger than expected commercial air travel 5) Stronger regulatory safety requirements and standards.

You may have already read the Boeing article detailing the need for over 1 million pilots and technicians that will be need between now and 2029 just to handle their current and projected aircraft orders. This is a large number but think about every other facet of aircraft manufacturing and what their needs may look like. Fleets worldwide are aging and the manufacturers are moving not only to replace these older planes for the obvious reasons but also because the newer aircraft are “greener” and far more fuel efficient. Fuel prices continue to be one of if not the largest risks for the airlines to sustain profitability. Today’s technician must be proficient in systems, have a strong understanding of composites and structures, and be adaptive to constantly changing environment. Pilots too must be able to adapt to modern systems in place in today’s cockpits.

The technology advancements that I mentioned are amazing with “next gen” technology, green technology for engines, advanced composite technology for airframes, more advanced computerized avionics suites, Global positioning systems, and advanced aircraft monitoring systems. These advancements challenge every pilot and technician to never stop learning and
moreover require the best and the brightest to fly and maintain them. Unlike other industries that are shrinking because of technology, aviation is growing because of it.

The retirements that were predicted in aviation for numbers of years are now upon us. In fact, it was in 2008 that the FAA extended the mandatory retirement age for pilots from 60 to 65 as the global shortfall was coming about. These pilot retirements are now eminent. The same holds true on even a larger scale for technicians. The fact of the matter is that
we have 1/3 less certified Airframe and Power plant technicians in this country than we did 10 years ago and many projections show that up to another 1/3 will retire over the next 7 to 10 years. Coupled with the growth in our industry the time is right to get involved in a career in aviation.

Passenger enplanements were up to 700 million last year for commercial air travel. This rapid pace of commercial air traffic rebound was not predicted during the economic meltdown of 2008. The FAA now projects steady increases year over year in commercial air travel with over 1 billion enplanements by 2016.

In short, you have chosen wisely to pursue the aerospace field for your career. Along with that choice comes opportunity and responsibility. The opportunities I have listed but the responsibilities are what set apart the great from the average in our industry. I am proud that you are being taught these responsibilities at Spartan. Safety, integrity, working independently as well as with teams, discipline, and respect for others; these are the things that aren’t in our promotional materials but I believe will set you apart from others in your peer groups graduating from colleges that teach similar curricula. Every rule and regulation that you are asked to adhere to as a student are the very things that employers value when coming to Spartan to recruit. Be Proud! Be Spartan!