DOT Inspector General Chides FAA Oversight of American Airlines

Looming Airline Mechanic Shortage Could Prolong Flight Disruptions

Airlines have blamed staffing shortages for this summer’s widespread flight delays, cancellations and disruptions as demand for air travel rebounds to pre-pandemic levels. One of the contributing factors that could prove more troublesome in the future is a lack of airplane mechanics.

As Reuters reports, COVID-related job cuts added fuel to the fire in terms of the trend of workers retiring or switching to other industries and maintenance schools are simply not producing enough graduates to replace those lost.


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According to the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), enrollment at U.S. aviation maintenance technician schools grew only 0.55 percent in 2020, compared to 13 percent in 2019. Airline industry executives warn that a shortage of aviation maintenance engineers could result in canceled flights and other headaches due to delayed repair appointments.

“In two years, in three years, if nothing changes, if young people continue to lack interest in our sector, we won’t be able to deliver our products,” Suzanne Benoit, President of trade group Aero Montreal, told the news outlet.

Last year, U.S. plane manufacturer Boeing Co. forecasted the global industry’s need for as many as 626,000 new maintenance technicians over the next two decades, compared to 612,000 pilots over that same period.

But the industry is already feeling the effects. A recent Wells Fargo survey of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services found that a majority (60 percent) saw a “meaningful impact” from shortages. That figure was up from 35 percent in a prior study.

“If we don’t have enough technicians, you are going to see delays, cancellations, potentially fewer aircraft in operation,” Christian Klein, vice president of operations for the trade group Aeronautical Repair Station Association, told Travel Weekly earlier this year.

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