EVERETT, Wash. - Careers in aviation continue to be hot right now. Boeing for example, projects hundreds of thousands of new pilots will be needed over the next 20 years.
At the same time, there is an equal, if not greater need for mechanics to fix the planes of the future. We got an inside look at Everett Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technology Program to see how they’re preparing the aviation mechanics of the future.
Students invest two years about learning all things airplane, from the engine to the airframe.
“A plane can’t fly unless that technician signs off saying it’s safe to fly,” said Robert Prosch, Associate Dean of Aviation.
The students in the current cohort love using their hands. After all, you need to, in order to fix the planes of the future.
“They actually remove pieces or different components off of it, clean it up, mount it back on there,” said Prosch, standing in front of a donated 747 engine.
This is E.C.C.'s aviation maintenance technician school.
For the next two years, these students will be hands on learning all things airplane.
And the need to get these students into the workforce right now is critical.
According to an outlook report by Boeing, 189,000 aircraft mechanics will be needed in North America in the next 20. 565,000 will be needed worldwide.
“I think they’re projecting something to the effect of 30%-50% of the workforce is going to retire, and right now we’re only replacing that at a rate of 2% a year,” said Prosch.
But after two years, once a student is done with the program, not only are the jobs immediate, they’re well paying.
"It’s not unheard of for a student to make $80,000 a year to start with their A&P license. If they go through the avionics portion, which includes another two quarters, they can make in excess of six figures,” said Prosch.
And while it's recommended that students know a bit of math and physics, according to Prosch the program is really open to anybody.
"We have students that have never touched a wrench in their lives that come into this, and find out that they love it. And so I’d say it’s fairly open to anybody who wants to pursue it,” said Prosch.
The students in the program come for all different backgrounds, genders, and experiences. The school, located across from Paine Field, offers 48,000 square feet of training space. Students have the choice of taking morning classes or evening classes.
Student Mikrelessie (Mike) Paluos grew up with planes, as his dad worked for Ethiopian Airlines. He already has a job with Boeing at night, while he takes the classes in the morning.
Now I’m at that step where I can listen to an engine and I can tell what type of engine it is,” said Paluos.
Another student Landon Douglass said he served in the Airborne Infantry for four years. But he wanted to learn more about the planes he was jumping out of.
“I figured the next best thing was to work on them, so this was the best program in the area,” said Douglass.
About 125 student are in this current class. EvCC's FAA-Approved Part 147 Aviation Maintenance Technician School has been providing training for more than 50 years. Students learn to maintain both reciprocating and turbine engines, repairing systems and components.
In the near future, these will be the workers who make sure your plane takes off on time.
“If you go through the program, you’ll come out a great mechanic,” said Paluos.
Many of the students work on Cessna's, helicopters, even a Boeing 727. Once they finish the program, then they have to go through a test with an FAA designated examiner.
According to Prosch 99% of students have a job once they leave the program.
There are five aviation maintenance technician schools in Washington state.