IATA / Piper Aircraft to start training aircraft mechanics in October


LAKELAND – The severe shortage of air mechanics has led Piper Aircraft to offer incentives to people wishing to study for the career.

When aircraft mechanic students begin their courses in October at the International AeroTech Academy, they could earn a signing bonus of $ 3,000, a tuition allowance and a conditional job offer.

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Piper Aircraft, Inc. is working with AeroTech in Lakeland to provide student incentives to meet the need for skilled workers at its manufacturing facility in Vero Beach.

The two organizations want to create a “pipeline for skilled airframe and powertrain mechanics” for the industry, a press release from Piper said on Tuesday.

“This transfer program is the first of its kind between the historic manufacturer and an aircraft maintenance training provider and includes a potential job offer before the training begins,” according to Piper.

The demand for maintenance technicians in the aviation industry will exceed supply as early as 2022, according to Piper. Current industry forecasts indicate that 739,000 technicians are needed worldwide, including 192,000 in North America alone.

“We are in a unique position to help build the talent pool by providing employment opportunities early in the student’s training, which we believe will help attract additional applicants to the program and to Piper Aircraft. “said Greg Wendel, senior director of manufacturing. at Piper.

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Students will have the opportunity to interview on October 14 at AeroTech with a representative from Piper.

Upon successful completion of the interview, Piper will provide students with a conditional employment letter provided they successfully complete the AeroTech training program. After graduation, the selected candidates will start working in the Piper aircraft production plant.

In addition to signing bonuses, graduates will receive an annual tuition reimbursement allowance of $ 2,400 per year for up to ten years. Classes are scheduled to begin October 28 at AeroTech located at 3033 Drane Field Road.

In all, AeroTech offers three courses: general, airframe and powertrain, explained Steven Markhoff, president and CEO of International Aero Academy, Ltd., which is the general name of the aviation school and form also pilots.

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The general aviation course lasts three months, and students will then move on to the cell which takes five months to complete. After that, students will take a course on power plants which lasts for five months. Tuition is $ 35,000 (or $ 11,666 per course) and includes three FAA written exams at $ 165 each as well as the FAA road test, which costs $ 1,000. School tools, tablet and folders are also included in the tuition fee.

Steven Markhoff, President and CEO of the International Aerotech Academy in Lakeland, Florida.  Thursday September 23, 2021. The story is about a flight mechanic training program that is being launched.  ERNST PETERS / THE BIG BOOK

“An interesting opportunity with Piper is that students can go to work for Piper with only their general and cell completed,” Markhott said. “If they don’t want to get the powertrain, they can start their careers after nine months instead of 14 months.”

AeroTech offers 100% funding for tuition fees. After the October classes start, the next class will start in mid-January and AeroTech will start a new class every four months thereafter.

“It’s not just good for Lakeland; it’s very good for the airline industry. said Markhoff, who is a former airline executive and has 22 years of industry experience.

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Most recently, Markhoff has led industry initiatives in safety certification and holds Airline Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor certificates.

The airline industry is extremely poor in mechanics, and Piper has accepted the Lakeland facility’s joint program and incentives to attract potential candidates into the industry.

The Indeed.com job site shows that some Florida air mechanics are paid $ 24.47 an hour.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in early retirements and layoffs of aircraft mechanics and many have not returned to work.

“Some of the older mechanics are not interested in retraining,” said Robert Mann, analyst and former airline executive.

Many of today’s advanced mechanics have learned to work with sheet metal, hydraulics, and analog systems and even though they decide to retrain in modern technologies, due to offshoring and other pressures to cut wages, they can get better pay by working at auto repair shops.

“The industry shot itself in the foot,” Mann said.

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There is also a shortage of pilots, and some airlines have paid pilots up to $ 120,000 in retention bonuses during the pandemic to fly them with the airline, because the cost and time to rehire the pilots and Getting them into the cockpit is very expensive, Mann said. It takes at least two and a half years to train to become a pilot.

Regarding the joint program, Mann added: “As an aircraft manufacturer, participating in the creation of this ‘pipeline’ is a good choice for Piper, who has all the components to train and supply skilled technicians under one roof. . ”

Citing a recent industry perspective from Boeing, Mann said, “As the commercial aviation industry continues to move towards recovery from the pandemic, a steady increase in the supply of personnel and effective training remain. essential for maintaining the health, safety and prosperity of the aviation ecosystem. ”

Long-term demand for newly trained aviation personnel remains strong, with an expected demand of more than 2.1 million people needed to pilot and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years, including 612,000 pilots, 626,000 technicians. maintenance staff and 886,000 cabin crew, he said.

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Lakeland Linder International Airport Manager Gene Conrad was excited about the news from Piper-Aero-Tech.

“It’s just another feather in our cap for air mechanics,” he said. While applauding the joint Piper-AeroTech program, he added, “We also need to keep people here. ”

RL Steven Markhoff, President and CEO, John Detrick Director / Instructor and Chris Metzger, Instructor at the International Aerotech Academy in Lakeland, Florida.  Thursday September 23, 2021. The story is about a flight mechanic training program that is being launched.  ERNST PETERS / THE BIG BOOK

Conrad explained that Amazon, NOAH and Draken International – a Defense Department contractor that has grown from 75 to 300 employees in recent years – as well as owners of private jets, such as Publix, all need mechanics. local planes to guard everything from cargo planes to private jets and helicopters to military planes flying safely. Conrad told The Ledger in May that Amazon employed 1,000 people at the airport.

There are 260 aircraft based at Lakeland Linder, Conrad said, and 3,000 people work there every day in the eight aircraft mechanics workshops located in the airport hangars.

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He noted that students at AeroTech and Polk County Schools, Traviss Technical College, will have more options than the aviation industry alone after obtaining FAA certifications. Theme parks such as Legoland Florida and Walt Disney World hire applicants with aviation certification to build and maintain rides.

The Piper Company has a history in Lakeland. In 1972, Piper decided to move a manufacturing division to a 710,000 square foot facility at Lakeland Municipal Airport after a nearby river flooded its location in Pennsylvania. Bagpipe enthusiasts often attend Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo.

Interested potential students can call 863-401-592 or email [email protected] To learn more about Piper Aircraft, visit the company’s website at www.piper.com.

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