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Recruiting / Retention of A&Ps

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At the Gen Av Ass'n's Town Hall Mtg at HAI, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the difficulty in attracting new talent to the industry, but there was a bit of dancing around the issue of what we need, maybe to not offend the big Operators. I DON'T have a problem with Operators working from a sense of Profit Motive, but several of them I've been around ( not all ) seemed fairly short-sighted in investing in the quality of their Maint cultures. Granted, some of us are our craft's own worst enemy. I could spend hours on the subject of underachievers-&-proud-of-it, so I'll save that for later. I'm not looking to start a Mech's labor union or especially not to demonize businessmen. I've tried on both hats, & am in search of the happy medium, a win-win culture. SO...I'm looking to start a healthy dialogue on the subject. I'll be adding to this thread various issues I've found over the years.

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BTW, I originally started this thread on JH. I got one reply about pay being the issue, & that far too many of our colleagues sell theirselves short, take a weak stand on shop rates, etc.


Here is the next post I was working on.


> > > > > > >


Yeah, the standard of living & quality of life are the bottom line. AGAIN, I DON'T have a problem with Operators having a Profit Motive; otherwise, WHY WORK?


Equally important to me are the honesty/integrity of the leadership ( NOTICE I didn't say MGMT ! ) I have voted with my feet on several occasions when it became clear to me that creative writing about Maint was more important than PERFORMING Maint. I'll expound on pencil-whippers in future posts.


My big beef paywise with the Big 3 in the GOM was the way they way they credited Military experience, even tho by the time I got to the Gulf I wasn't harmed by their "calculus".


I'll qualify my argument first by making it clear my understanding that not all Mil Aviation Mechs are the same.


If Mikey the Newbie Mech ( using male gender only bcoz I'm lazy; Women in Av are COOL ! ) was a Left Aft Wheel Bearing Repacker or Audio Panel Display Windexer on C-17s or F35s, I'd have little choice but to expect him to be as skilled as a student in most A&P schools, unless he showed Training Jackets with documentation of MEANINGFUL cross-training, OR, unless of course he was a UH-1N or Pavelow/Pavehawk type.


If he was a -60 or -47 Crew Chief, I'd be more sympathetic, realizing that if he was flying non-stop & running against Crew Day limitations, he might've been throwing his logbooks ( or laptops ) to the Dyn Corp / L3 guys, & hitting the hooch. I'd HAVE to give this guy at least half-credit for his time on types that I'm not working with, unless of course we were operating the civilian equivalents of these airframes. If he was a Kiowa guru & I was operating 206/407, guess what...his time counts!


If he was a Sgt Crew Chief on Hueys from the USMC, with 10 yrs experience on the H-1 family, every NATOPS qual possible for his rank, AND I was operating 212/412, I'd give him full credit.


Or..a Sgt Crew Chief on Frogs / Ospreys /Sh!tters with 6 yrs experience, & a bulging NATOPS Jacket as above, I'd start him with at least half-time credit during a probabtionary period to get him up to speed on the 212/412, S-76, 206/407s, at that particular Company, with a PROMISE for accelerated pay scale steps for good work.


Now here's my soapbox: both of these last 2 humans had gone thru A&P Testing Cram Courses at the end of their enlistments & gotten licensed. They were BOTH credited with a FEW MONTHS of experience for the time that they held A&P Licenses!


They each got the big green weenie! ( non-tactical IMRON-painted, of course ).


Both of these individuals were EXTREMELY sharp, self-motivated, & driven to learn & excel. They got stiffed & it was just too bad. I was still fairly new to the GOM at the time, but with 20 yrs as A&P, plus IA, so I didn't know how ALL the GOM operators treated Mechs. The general consenus among the old leads we worked with with was that all the big operators had an "unwritten agreement" to play this game.


AGAIN, I'm NOT out to demonize businessmen, & at the same time I'm not real tolerant of overpaid- or unteachable- incompetence but this was clearly abuse of two really good hands.

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So...then there was an outfit that paid a so-so day rate for Field, & so-so hourly for the CRS at "homeplate". Something else had fallen thru & the savings were getting thin, so I made what seemed like a decent decision to go with a "Big" outift that seemed stable.


They paid straight-time Day Rate for extra hitches- oh well, it was still additional income, BUT they'd pay mileage for your commute to work ( up to the distance to Base from "homeplate" ), & their Per Diem for Field work was more than most others paid, so it seemed to be good fatih effort on their part.


Then lo & behold after a few hitches, I figured out the rest of the story...the pilots got flown in, given individual rent-a-cars & paid time & a half Day Rate for extra hitches. They were NOT a unionized work group on the property...so that was nice of the employer...but what were we- chopped liver..?


I eventually voted with my feet, for a LOT more reasons than that.

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hmm.. that's alot of hard to follow information...I personally hope that things get much worse for employers (lack of available or skilled mechanics). I don't think mechanics need to unionize necessarily... they just need to be more demanding individually and not so accepting of how things are currently (same could be said of pilots).

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A&Ps get screwed just like pilots do. You can go down to the local auto dealer and hire on as an automobile mechanic, no license required, and make more money, working under far better conditions. But "working on helicopters" is so romantic! It's AVIATION!!! Like the old joke about the guy sweeping floors and cleaning toilets for and FBO - IT'S IN AVIATION!!! That's the way it has always been, and it continues. People work for far too little money, working far too hard under appalling conditions, just to be in aviation. It's true of pilots, it's true of mechanics, and it's true of everyone else who "works in aviation". We keep doing it, and we have only ourselves to blame.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The hard facts gentleman: If you want to fly or work on helicopters, you better really have a passion for it because you are going to be underpaid, overworked and otherwise abused. Let's face it, the helicopter industry has a few very small niches that it fills, so work is limited, jobs are limited, there are volumes of rules and regs that need to be complied with, they are maintenance intensive, they are expensive to buy, maintain, and insure, and eeking out salary and keeping the finances in the black can be tricky, especially when a company has to be competitive. How do you fix a situation like this?

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