November 27, 2017
Aircraft Maintenance Technicians/Engineers from around the world gathered this month to attend the 45th Annual Congress of the Aircraft Engineers International (AEI) in Lisbon, Portugal. Our host was the Aviation Maintenance Technician’s Union of Air Portugal (SITEMA). Approximately 43 delegates from four continents, 15 countries, and 14 affiliate organizations attended the Congress to address the following business of AEI: amending the AEI Constitution; electing members of the Executive Board; attending plenary sessions on an array of relevant topics and gaining genuine insight into the challenges that we AMTs face as we uphold the demanding safety standards and protocols required for ensuring the airworthiness of the world’s aircraft.
Mr. Gene Painter, AMFA Assistant National Director, and I attended the Congress on behalf of AMFA. AMFA has been an affiliate organization of AEI for more than 10 years. After gaining insight into the undertakings and accomplishments of AEI, Mr. Painter volunteered for and was elected to serve a three-year term as an Extended Executive Board member for AEI.
It was clear at this year’s Congress that the global shortage of federally licensed aircraft maintenance technicians and engineers continues to put pressures on regulators -- under the FAA in the United States and under the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Europe -- to respond. Some of the airlines operating under EASA regulations are pushing to have the “Certified Release to Service” signature authorization changed from being an oversight function (licensed engineer observes then signs for the work of an un-licensed individual) to a simplified administrative function (un-licensed individual does the work without oversight and a licensed engineer would be directed to sign the technical logbook). These carriers are trying to convince EASA that it is not necessary to have a federally licensed individual oversee the work of their company trained individuals. AEI is absolutely opposed to this initiative and participates on the EASA regulatory working groups that will craft regulations responding to this push. AMFA is likewise fighting for the protections of our Airframe & Powerplant License in the United States as pressure mounts to expand the role of the Repairman Certificate under the FAA system.
The Congress included many outstanding and informative presentations. A representative from Air Portugal gave a presentation on how they have developed a program in conjunction with the local and national government on developing a career path into aviation jobs beginning at the junior high school level. As students progress they take courses learning about aviation careers and actually do internships in various divisions of the airline, and upon graduation they are eligible to continue their career path with tuition subsidies to obtain their desired licenses. This has been a successful program for them resulting in a very dedicated employee base.
The Annual Congress of AEI was once again insightful and an invaluable opportunity for our Association to be part of global airline safety. Remember AMFA’s motto: “Safety in the air begins with quality maintenance on the ground.”
AEI Secretary of the Americas