features Help in the hangar: Tackling the AME shortage

The global pilot shortage has garnered a lot of attention, but there’s been less coverage of the even greater need for aircraft maintenance engineers.
Avatar for Lisa Gordon By Lisa Gordon | August 19, 2019

Estimated reading time 14 minutes, 48 seconds.

Despite the ever-increasing demand for air travel and its collision course with a severe global pilot shortage, there is one simple fact: Airplanes won’t be going anywhere if there are no aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) to fix them.

In March 2018, the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace anticipated that by 2025, this country will need about 5,300 new AMEs to keep pace with industry growth and retirements. Skyservice Business Aviation Photo
In March 2018, the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace anticipated that by 2025, this country will need about 5,300 new AMEs to keep pace with industry growth and retirements. Skyservice Business Aviation Photo

According to the 2019 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, a whopping 769,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to maintain the world fleet over the next two decades.

From a national perspective, a labour market study released by the Canadian Council for Aviation & Aerospace (CCAA) in March 2018 anticipated that by 2025, about 5,300 new AMEs will be needed to keep pace with industry growth and retirements.

Canadian colleges graduate about 600 maintenance technicians per year, according to the CCAA, yet only about 77 per cent go on to work in the industry. More than 25 per cent of companies surveyed for the 2018 report said they were having difficulty filling aircraft maintenance positions, especially those related to specialty areas such as structures and avionics.

There’s no denying the shortfall that is already being felt in hangars and shops across the country – and it’s only going to get worse.

According to Transport Canada data provided to Skies, there were 17,662 active AME licence holders living in Canada as of June 26, 2019. Half of them (8,762) are currently above age 50. Of those, just over 50 per cent is actually above age 60.

Think about that for a second: Half of Canada’s existing AMEs are at or near retirement age!

The situation is dire in other countries, too.

Selected Centennial College aviation technical students complete a 15-month work term at Air Canada. Air Canada Photo
Selected Centennial College aviation technical students complete a 15-month work term at Air Canada. Air Canada Photo

Who will keep our future fleet in the air? We need a new crop of AMEs equipped with next generation skills such as composites repair and digital troubleshooting. At the same time, older aircraft will continue to fly, and so-called legacy skillsets will still be in demand.

A united front

The solutions to the AME labour shortage aren’t easy or obvious. Fixing the issue will take a concerted team effort from industry, academia and Transport Canada, which regulates AME licensing.

The CCAA labour market study notes that students are increasingly benefitting from work-integrated learning (WIL) programs, which include co-ops and internships.

Through a $4.8 million grant obtained from Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC) in 2017, CCAA is working to create more than 1,000 student WIL placements for post-secondary students through 2021. Employers offering eligible programs to approved post-secondary education students receive wage subsidies equal to 50 to 70 per cent of the wage cost.

“Work integrated learning is key, as it introduces students to the leading-edge equipment they will be expected to use as well as introducing them to workplace and corporate culture,” noted the CCAA report.

It’s a formula that is endorsed by many, including Traci Brittain, chair of aerospace and aviation and the person responsible for aviation training at Centennial College in Toronto.

The college – along with others across the country – has been participating in the CCAA-led WIL program with Air Canada.

The industry needs a new crop of AMEs equipped with next generation skills such as composites repair and digital troubleshooting. At the same time, legacy skillsets will still be in demand. WestJet Photo
The industry needs a new crop of AMEs equipped with next generation skills such as composites repair and digital troubleshooting. At the same time, legacy skillsets will still be in demand. WestJet Photo

Between the first and second year of Centennial’s two-year aviation technician programs, selected students complete a 15-month work term at the airline.

“Generally, they have placed a little over 30 students each year [since 2017],” said Brittain. “They have work terms they must do across the company. Students have mentors and coaches, and all of that training they’re getting is connected to the trade they are interested in going into.”

Following the work placement, said Brittain, students return to the college to complete their second year of formal training.

In addition to giving students a realistic glimpse into their chosen career and helping them make important professional contacts, work-integrated learning programs fill another important void too – what many have referred to as the skills gap.

Brittain explains it well.

“The students who are coming out of the various schools across the country don’t necessarily exit with the ideal level of skill and knowledge that the industry would prefer,” she said. “Companies are trying to replace their exiting experts, but our programs are designed to provide a foundation for students to continue their learning. Industry’s job is to build on that foundation.

“Unfortunately, we no longer have the luxury of time for that to take place – the industry is experiencing the [AME labour] shortage now. So, there is a gap there, and we are working with industry to address it.”

Brittain said work placements were done in the past, but “it’s just been more focused now because of the shortage.”

In addition, post-secondary institutions across the country are taking a hard look at how their training programs can be adjusted – working within the prescribed government syllabus – to produce a more well-rounded candidate.

Officials from Centennial sat down with the college’s industry-led program advisory committee to ask what skills were lacking in new graduates. The answer? So-called soft skills.

Communication, business skills, critical thinking and leadership are difficult for an employer to teach in an industry environment, so Centennial decided to create a three-year aviation technician program that offers training in those areas.

It will be offered for the first time this coming September, said Brittain, and she expects enrolment will steadily increase.

Students are increasingly benefiting from work-integrated learning programs, which include co-ops and internships. Air Canada Photo
Students are increasingly benefiting from work-integrated learning programs, which include co-ops and internships. Air Canada Photo

Recruiting and training

In the last three years, Sam Longo has noticed something new at the Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Association of Ontario (AME Ontario) annual symposium.

Until he recently became president of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers of Canada (AMEC) – a new national organization formed to unite Canada’s regional AME associations – Longo was president of AME Ontario.

He said he’s seen a few telltale signs that industry is now feeling the effects of an AME shortage. Chief among them is that major airlines are actively recruiting at the symposium – and they’re not just looking for licensed AMEs, but also connecting with post-secondary institutions to develop new co-op programs.

“We’ve always promoted our symposium and workshops as a networking tool,” said Longo. “But it’s tough for smaller companies to let their AMEs go to the event [due to workload], and now last year we heard they were worried about them getting poached.”

Theresa Davis-Woodhouse is director of project management at CCAA. She said the organization has held a number of focus groups across the country, and “the shortage of pilots and AMEs comes up at every one.

“Some in the North say they can’t recruit anyone locally – and that’s complicated by the fact there is no AME training in the North.”

Davis-Woodhouse said meeting the challenge will require a multi-pronged approach.

One idea is to recruit AMEs from multiple sources.

“You want young people as well as experienced people who have transferred from other industries, and people who want to immigrate to Canada who have those skill sets,” she said, adding that Transport Canada could streamline licence conversions.

Industry has said students need "soft skills" such as communication, critical thinking and leadership. Air Canada Photo
Industry has said students need “soft skills” such as communication, critical thinking and leadership. Air Canada Photo

CCAA is currently working on a certification program funded by the government to help new Canadians prove their skill sets. There is an online test/self-assessment tool as well as a practical assessment.

The council can also certify required competencies for those who don’t follow the traditional post-secondary institution path to their AME exams. In addition, CCAA has introduced a suite of products for employers and colleges to develop students’ soft skills including team building, time management and mentorship. Currently, there is no fee for these programs for students involved in approved work-integrated learning placements.

Davis-Woodhouse said that while Canadian schools provide very good training for aircraft maintenance technicians, their hands are somewhat tied by current regulations.

“The colleges are audited by Transport Canada and they have to follow what Transport Canada mandates they teach,” explained Davis-Woodhouse. “There is not a lot of room to implement new training and get rid of obsolete training. I think it’s time for the training to become more competency-based and less time-based, and to let industry have more input.”

Robert Donald, executive director of the CCAA, wholeheartedly agrees. He’s made the issue one of his top priorities.

“Transport Canada has Standard 566/Appendix C,” he told Skies. “This is what a college must teach if they want to be approved as an authorized training organization. But that curriculum hasn’t been updated since the mid-1990s and industry has evolved dramatically.”

For example, Appendix C requires students to have an understanding of fabric surfaces (cloth wings) and wood components.

AMEs need digital skills; some innovative training organizations are developing e-learning tools. WestJet Photo
AMEs need digital skills; some innovative training organizations are developing e-learning tools. WestJet Photo

“If you ask commercial airlines, this time could be much better spent on modern technology,” he said.

Led by Donald, the CCAA is pushing for an update to Standard 566/Appendix C. He said the council and an industry consortium are trying to create a new multi-disciplinary aircraft technician designation that includes not just maintenance training, but also avionics and interior systems capabilities.

“With the students coming out now, you’d need three different trades to do this,” explained Donald. “And, schools can’t teach soft skills because there is no room in the Transport Canada curriculum. You have specified hours and specified content. That prevents the colleges from responding to more of what their advisory committees request.”

In addition to prescribing what students learn, Transport Canada also has guidelines about how they learn it. For example, blended learning programs – in which students complete an online course and then have a discussion in class followed by an exam – are not currently permitted.

Modernizing the training curriculum includes adapting alternate forms of learning, said Donald.

Centennial College’s Brittain said there is no doubt the regulatory standard needs to be modernized.

However, she issued a cautionary statement: “[We must] ensure that any enhancements or changes to those standards are in fact something that academia can fulfil. For example, requiring college programs to teach advanced technologies because one or two operators have or use such systems would be problematic; likewise, it would be difficult for colleges to train on systems that they cannot afford to purchase or run.  Any updating of the basic training standards needs to ensure there is a clear distinction between what the expectation of an educator is at a basic training level versus that of the industry at a work entry and training continuation role.”

Like Davis-Woodhouse, Donald is in favour of implementing competency-based training for pilots and AMEs. Instead of logging a prescribed number of hours in order to achieve licences and/or ratings, a competency-based approach would evaluate a student’s unique skills and abilities and advance them only if they are fully capable. Ability – not hours – becomes the key focus.

Dr. Suzanne Kearns, an associate professor of aviation at the University of Waterloo, has long been a proponent of evaluating students based on their demonstrated abilities. It’s especially important during a labour shortage, she said, to graduate students as efficiently as possible.

“From an international scale, the need for maintenance engineers is more critical than any other aviation group,” she said. “If you look at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) numbers, between 2016 and 2036, they provided big numbers. I broke it down to see how many you’d need to produce every day and it was 140 maintenance engineers every single day for 20 years, just to meet global demand!”

Kearns is part of the ICAO Next Generation of Aviation Professionals group. Its members have agreed to focus on initiatives to attract, educate and retain aviation and aerospace professionals.

“From the attraction perspective for the maintenance profession, it’s about encouraging people to join the industry, and giving young people exposure to it,” she said.

Many high schools have an auto shop, but few have an aviation component.

The CCAA’s Donald said many high school guidance counsellors are unaware of the opportunities in aerospace. “Some of them discourage students from pursuing careers,” he said. “There is a perception this is a cyclical industry but that is not true anymore. There are hundreds of great careers and high-paying jobs.”

From the education side, Kearns said there needs to be a focus on helping interested students enrol in aviation and aerospace programs.

Finally, she said there are a number of ways to retain staff, but at the end of the day it’s all about making them an attractive offer, including good employment conditions, opportunities for professional development, and cross-border and cross-profession skills transfer. This would include, for instance, easier foreign licence recognition, or helping people move laterally within the aerospace industry.

According to Transport Canada, just two per cent of AMEs are female, making women a target demographic for recruiters. Heath Moffatt Photo
According to Transport Canada, just two per cent of AMEs are female, making women a target demographic for recruiters. Heath Moffatt Photo

Harnessing technology

Technology plays an important role when it comes to supporting education, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

When Boyd Parsons started in the aviation maintenance industry in 1992, he had no idea that 27 years later, he’d be the co-founder of a new company that is focused on introducing new immersive technologies to change the way people learn.

His career includes more than 20 years with Air Canada, much of it focused on technical education. He was involved with establishing the airline’s WIL program in association with CCAA, but he saw an opportunity to do more.

In November 2018, he left Air Canada and co-founded GS5 – Global Students, Skills, Sustainability, Safety and Systems Thinking. It’s a virtual organization that is partnering with academia, government, industry and leading companies such as Manpower Group, Silverback Productions and Shadowbox Learning Services to address what Parsons called the “perfect storm” in the aviation and aerospace labour markets.

GS5’s focus is turning traditional curricula into immersive technical curricula using VR technologies.

“We integrate learning with work and we do that by engaging technologies. What they would normally learn in one week of college, they can achieve in less than 10 hours, and work in the industry as they learn,” said Parsons.

“We believe there is a great opportunity to lean learning.”

The company is starting out by creating VR course materials for jobs that traditionally don’t have instructional materials, such as airside ramp attendant or aircraft interior technician.

“At GS5 we believe the opportunity is here: The latest generation uses technology to learn, and technology has now advanced enough to facilitate that type of knowledge transfer. If you use a gamification approach, it becomes an experience.”

Parsons is confident that GS5 will be able to deliver competency-based, evidence-based VR learning that “would allow an individual to experience any aeronautical system.

“I do believe that yes, the technology is already there today and it’s just a matter of industry, regulators and academia coming together to figure out how to evolve our whole ecosystem,” he concluded.

That sort of total co-operation will be essential to meeting the challenges presented by a serious aviation and aerospace labour shortage that is already upon us.

From harnessing the power of technology to the formation of exciting new partnerships between industry, academia and Transport Canada, there are many initiatives underway to attract, educate and retain the aviation and aerospace next gen.

As the clock ticks toward retirement for even more AMEs, it is becoming more and more obvious that a complete industry reset is the only option to meet the increasing global demand for air travel while maintaining aviation’s high overall safety rating.

There is no time for “business as usual.” It’s time to take bold, innovative steps toward the new normal.

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  1. Another thing to consider is Tapping into Experienced Unlicenced Mechanics and walking them through the TCCA AME Licence Process!
    Another suggestion is using The LMIA Process to Import outside Experience.
    I utilized it once(thanks to the Organization I work For) and it worked out well.
    Kind Regards
    Merv DSouza

    1. Hi Merv, can you email me please? I have a question regarding your certification as an AME being an overseas one. Thanks! Fernando

    2. Dear Merv,
      Hope you’re doing well.
      I’m Madhu B Rajan, ex-naval aviator from India. I’ve 15 years of experience(1992-2007) on all marks of Seaking helicopters(A&P) fitted with two Rolls Royce Gnome H1400-1T Turboshaft engines.
      I’m trying for a job in Canada as Helicopter Mechanic/Technician. Also, I can look after any kind of non- technical jobs in aviation industry.
      Would be really grateful if you could guide or advise me on how to fulfill my dream.
      Looking forward to a positive response,
      Many thanks.

  2. There is no emphasis on renumeration in this article!
    Ask the 50% over 50 what the issue is?
    Its money and work environment.

  3. I completed my training with excellent grades, but worked for one sketchy employer (which caused me to leave aviation), and I’ve not been able to find work in aviation since. Can’t need people that badly.

  4. An article this long and in-depth about the AME shortage and it makes no mention of the root cause. Low wages. This needs to be addressed to attract new people and retain experienced people. It’s not logical that a senior AME should make less than an elevator technician or a senior auto mechanic. If the numbers in this article are true this country will be screwed for AME’s in a few years regardless of all the aforementioned initiatives, unless wages are addressed in a substantial way. As an M1/M2 AME for thirty years, I’m probably too close to the end to reap the benefits of the eventual rightful wage increases and will have worked my entire career (most of it at night) for substandard pay. It also makes it difficult to attract new people to this industry when people like me are warning them away from it.

    1. And rightfully so, I’m very candid with anyone about this industry. They’ve caused this mess themselves with the low pay and carrots they dangle in front of newbies that either never come true or weren’t worth the effort. It’s a disgusting situation and this article avoids the elephant in the room, PAY!

  5. There are four basic issues that need to be rectified for our industry to be attractive to young people. First is the AME is not listed as an Aviation Professional, not even as a technician and it needs to be managed by a Professional Organization not Transport Canada. Second the pay and benefits have to be upgraded to match the responsibility. Third the regulatory body (Transport Canada) needs a complete overhaul. Todays Transport Canada is a third world service provider who thinks they are on top of their game. Four we need a system for the advancement of AMEs that goes beyond fixing aircraft on hangar floor and educates them on maintenance/business management. We need the industry as whole to stop looking at the AME as just a “mechanic”.
    Imagine for a second if the industry looked at a pilot as just an aeroplane “driver”.

  6. Companies and the industry are completely out of touch with reality. Young workers want a work life balance which the industry cannot give. Companies do not pay nearly enough for the amount of responsibility expected from their mechanics and all the time away from families on weekends and holidays. Add to that the continuous exposure to toxic substances, elevated noises and workplace hazards, and the cyclical nature of the layoff hire layoff hire and it’s no wonder the younger workers don’t want to have a thing to do it. The government is slow to react and as usual is waits until the last possible minute. If the government is serious they will put forth and support am aerospace policy backing their industry like all the other major aviation hugs across the world. Failure to do so will result in the loss of another lucrative industry and brain drain to countries who clearly understand what it takes to make industry work!

  7. I have passed diploma AME from India( Mechanical). That is approved by FAA. I have no job. I am very much interested in serving aviation industry. If I get a chance, I am ready to join the field.

  8. Outdated wages and outdated regulations are the main problems within our industry. You can make on average 10 dollars an hour more plus a shift premium driving a haul truck at a coal mine and get that job with less education. Transport Canada logbook evaluators also stand in the way and hold the keys to initial and additional ratings, and their evaluations and direction are very poor. They misinterpret the evaluation procedures which hold up mechanics for months, sometimes years. Some actually believe you need 70% of every chapter and you have to lodge appeals to get it sorted out. In the past you completed one book and could get your M1 and M2 rating with no difficulty. Now you have to complete all the same tasks twice, just on a bigger aircraft. I agree with an evaluation of skill when adding additional ratings but the books should be tailored to your goal if you already have an M1 or M2 with tasks that are actually applicable. I tell most prospective AMEs to head for automotive or heavy duty. The pay is much more, the responsibility less, and you’ll most likely make it home every night.

  9. I remember stories of poor apprentices completing the official tasks and the crusty supervisor refusing to sign off. Supervisors who kept that up drove apprentices out of the industry.

  10. Most people commenting have hit the nail on the head. Pay is the main issue and if you look at the job postings below and you’re a young person, which one will you chose?

    Job posting for an elevator mechanic in Prince George:

    Prince George, BC
    $52 – $65 an hour
    Elevator Maintenance Mechanic
    Read and interpret blueprints to determine layout of system components
    Test operation of newly installed equipment
    Troubleshoot electrical or mechanical systems failures
    Disassemble defective units and repair or replace worn or suspect parts
    Adjust valves, ratchets, seals, brake linings and other components
    Carry out preventative maintenance programs to ensure public safety
    Hydraulic Elevator Packing/Piston changes
    Cab Refurbishment
    Rope and Belt replacement
    Upgradation of Door Operators
    Assess and repair any breakdowns in service based upon changes in provincial building and elevator codes
    Elevator maintenance experience
    Certification or ability to be certified through AEDARSA
    Job Type: Full-time
    Salary: $52.00 to $65.00 /hour

    Job posting for an auto body technician in Kelowna:

    Ability to take direction and ask questions when required
    -Positive Attitude
    -A willingness to learn new procedures
    The successful candidate will posses:
    -Auto Body Repair Technician Certification ( Red Seal preferred)
    -A positive outgoing attitude with excellent customer service and communication skills
    -Superior organizational skills and multi-tasking abilities
    -Technical experience and a solid understanding of the collision repair process. A team player with the ability to work quickly and efficiently.
    -Ambition, Integrity and strong work ethic are top priorities in our team.
    -The ability to prioritize a large work load and manage time efficiently
    -A valid B.C. Drivers License with clean abstract
    Busy year round shop with long running strong relationships with multiple insurance partners backed by our solid warranty program. Clean, bright and well equipped work areas. Supportive training environment, professional growth and last but not least the opportunity to be part of a team of industry professionals who are generous in their knowledge, dedicated to our customers and happy to come to work.
    Qualified applicants are invited to submit their cover letter, detailed resume and references to:
    By e-mail to: Call 250-860-7788 for e-mail address
    By Fax: 250-860-6327
    In Person/or by mail: 1110 Leathead Road, Kelowna, B.C. V1X 2K1
    We thank all who take the time to respond. Those candidates chosen to move forward in the process will be contacted.
    Job Type: Full-time
    Salary: $80,000.00 to $100,000.00 /year
    • Auto Body Repair: 2 years (Preferred)
    Red Seal (Preferred)

    Job posting for an auto glass technician in Vancouver:

    Vancouver, BC
    $18 – $25 an hour
    Full-time position available for an enthusiastic and highly motivated self-starter who is organized, follows instructions well, has a solid work ethic, and can provide excellent customer service. We work on all makes and models of vehicles including commercial vehicles and travel trailers.
    Some experience preferred, but willing to train the right candidate. Highly motivated apprentices are encouraged to apply.
    We have locations in Vancouver, South Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam and Aldergrove and offer mobile services out of our Coquitlam location.
    Reporting to the Branch Manager, an Auto Glass Technician provides high quality installations and customer satisfaction
    Treating all customers with respect at all times
    Provide excellent customer service and sales
    Glass installation including: Door glass, windshields, backglass, rockchip and crack repair
    Ensure that all equipment, materials, and areas of operation conform to health and safety regulations and requirement
    Efficiently using materials and time
    Cleaning the inside of a vehicle
    High school diploma or GED preferred
    Experience in the automotive glass repair and replacement industry preferred
    Exceptional attention to detail
    Ability to multi task
    Great communication and problem-solving skills.
    Available to work a flexible schedule (Monday-Saturday)
    Auto glass certification preferred
    Ability to lift up to 50lbs without assistance
    Willing to work in a fast pace environment
    Must have a valid driver’s license with a clean driving record
    Job Type: Full-time
    Salary: $18.00 to $25.00 /hour
    • auto technician: 1 year (Preferred)
    • Drivers License (Preferred)
    English (Preferred)

    Job posting for an AME apprentice in Kelowna from KF Aerospace:


    Graduation from a Transport Canada accredited “Approved Aircraft Maintenance Avionics Program”
    Must be able to obtain and retain a Transport Canada Airport Pass
    Basic computer skills
    Mechanical aptitude and ability to work safely with basic hand tools
    Able to read technical manuals and drawings
    Positive attitude and strong work ethic
    Able to work effectively independently and as part of a team
    Able to take direction from others
    Quick learner
    Ability to work 40 hours a week in a rotating shift-work environment
    Ability to travel, as required
    Must be physically fit


    This is a shift work position which will require you to work days, nights, and weekends. KF Aerospace works on a 3-week rotating shift schedule.


    As an Avionics Apprentice with KF Aerospace you can start a rewarding career with a team of people who are passionate about their craft. The position starts at $18.60/hr with bi-annual performance and wage reviews.

    Apprentices are expected to work towards filling out their Logbook & achieving their Transport Canada license. Once you have achieved your Transport Canada License, your wage will increase to $28.14/hr, with room to grow into Senior AME & Shift Lead.

  11. The companies and the unions need to work together. Unions protect older people, keeping them on day shift. A young AME coming into any company is probably looking at spending the next 15 to 20 years on night shift. What young person wants that? If a pilot is worth $250,000 to drive the thing, surely the person keeping it in the air is worth more than $80,000!

  12. I currently went through a possible hiring process to signing on as a full time employee. While discussing terms with the human resources department they told me that with my 15 years experience multiple ACA’s and endorsements I would fall on thier pay scale somewhere between $33.50 to $34.00. And that’s where the conservation ended. How are they so disconnected from the reality of the industry or do they just not care?

  13. The comments above pretty much capture the problem with the industry. Low pay and shift work that doesn’t even come close to respecting family time or decent working conditions. Training is a great start but if you can’t attract people to the industry the best training in the world won’t bring the numbers up.

    We as Aircraft Maintenance Engineers are also guilty of not grabbing this profession by the boot straps and pulling it up to where it should be. If we are going to get respect and proper wages, we need to start by respecting our trade and demanding some basic respect from employers and the public in general. Our problem and I am not saying it is a bad thing, is that a good AME is typically a self-centered individual that thrives on working independently and getting an airplane in the air. The notion of banding together for the common good isn’t in our nature. Unfortunately, this independent thinking has put us in the position we are in and standing on the sidelines and saying “I told you we weren’t getting payed properly” will never get us to where we should fit in the transportation eco system.

    If I can suggest, why don’t we start with something simply like demanding that we be addressed by our proper title. We are Aircraft Maintenance Engineers. This can be shortened to AME. If people don’t know what we are, how can we expect any recognition for our trade. I am tired of people calling us mechanics, technicians, maintainers, techs, licenced aircraft technicians and a myriad of other names that simply muddy the idea of who we are and what we do. It is a hard road to get an AME licence and we need to demand that this effort be recognised. Within our own group, we can’t seem to come together on this point. This call for respect often comes with comments like “what you are going to drive trains” or that isn’t what we call you here. This must stop, and it needs to start with us. We as Aircraft Maintenance Engineers have the right to append or signatures with our professional title AME. Pilots do it professional engineers do it and we have that right as well. The day that we don’t feel embarrassed about recognising our profession is the day that the rest of the wold will do it.
    Employers need to get our title right so that we don’t get confused with unlicensed employees. The government needs to properly recognise us as well. A simple thing like allowing tools to be written off on our taxes would be a good start. We also need to respect ourselves and the training that we have received. For me this would include recognising international licences that meet a minimum training standard and demanding that we receive that same from the foreign licencing bodies. If you want the trade to thrive, open up the world to AME’s. If a country doesn’t want to pay properly, the brain drain to other countries that results, will fix the problem in short order. If Canada reviews the licencing requirements of another country and deems them equivalent, why shouldn’t we allow these people to fix our aircraft. At the same time, I will be allowed to move to that country and use my Canadian licence if the pay and benefits work for me.
    The unfortunate reality is that a lot of people will read the comments posted here and nod their heads in agreement and then wait for someone else to fix the problem. If we want this to go the way we want, we all need to step up and do something even if its as small as correcting someone who addresses you as something other than AME.

    I would love any feedback or ideas. I hope that I am not alone in this. Email me at mark@watermaid.ca

    Mark Manning AME

  14. As a unionized member in a large Company, as a member of the bargaining team, I can attest there is no interest from our employer to bridge the wage gap. As a result we can not attract AME’s to come to an area which housing and cost of living is extremely high. We are getting to the point that the men and women that I represent are looking for other options outside this field. As mentioned in the article most of my members are 55+ just waiting until the numbers or spouse say it’s ok to retire. Why would one ever try to convince the younger generation that aviation is a great sector to try to forge a career.

    1. I taught at the college I went to for a few years as an AME instructor.
      I didn’t hold anything back when students asked me what I really thought of the industry which is pretty much the sentiment of this thread.
      My colleagues while they agreed with me, sadly some were trained to keep the kids heads filled with fairy tails of big money and huge demand for technicians (the same tales I was told when I went thru many moons ago).
      While those tails are somewhat true, (money comes at a price of remote work and long hours, working in some of the most inhospitable conditions in Canada, demand is due to the brutal work conditions that drives people away after 5 years on average). I laid it all out for the students to understand the full picture.
      The cherry-picked / redacted details some instructors fed the students was disheartening to listen to, you can’t give pieces of information in a vacuum to a person to make a career decision ethically.
      Attendance has been suffering in the last ten years nationally for AMT colleges and has definitely has a quisling effect on some of the program staff.
      Now we’re coming out of a pandemic (I think) and headed for another recession. And I have never seen the helicopter industry in Canada so weak. I don’t have an answer but I do know there’s too much red tape to fly here in the state of affairs were in.

      1. Cant agree anymore! I were in a similar situation a decade ago being an instructor in the college and we (instructors) were kind of coerced by our bosses to paint up a rosy picture of aviation, this was back while I was in India. Having left the AME field almost a decade ago, I have moved to aerospace sales & commercials and find myself in a much better position than my other peers and old colleagues.
        I have recently moved to Canada and found one of my old acquaintances working as an AME in the same company and I felt bad seeing the high workload and low wages the profession pays up in Canada.

  15. One main reason people dont take this course is considering the fact that it’s not a degree. People believe that in todays world with no degree you wont get ta job and considering the situation of the diploma holders it’s actually true.
    Secondly not many people are aware of this course and its scope moreover considering the pay it offers and comparing the job responsibilities it’s really low.

  16. The industry surrounding AMEs specifically is long overdue for an overhaul!

    Things I’d like to see which I witness a multitude of times spoken by AME Apprentices, Techs and M2 holders in 90 percent of AMOs..
    I have even heard of outsiders exploring areas in the industry who shy away from AME and even Piloting for these facts that exists

    1. Low Pay
    Higher standard pay across the board from MRO’s to Line Maintenance. This will attract more young kids in highschool to the industry and keep talent in the facility.

    Side note: After finding work in 2014 as an AME Apprentice my starting pay was roughly $13.60 per hour working heavy maintenance on Airline owned 737NGs. The average staff member at the Tim Hortons down the street was most likely making more than I was LOL. By the time I left the shop in 2017 I was just touching $17 per hour as a 4th year AME Tech..

    2. Help and give more benefit to AMEs that have completed basic training. Help streamline the process of attaining the AME license with or without accreditation. Also, AME licensing “industry time” required for Ontario College non accredited graduates compared to an ICS graduates should not be the same.

  17. Let the greedy airlines wait. AME’s will see their day. Once that 50% over 60 retire. Then the planes will stay on the ground. Costing huge for all. Maybe then AME’s will get wages and compensation long overdue.

  18. A concern I did not see mentioned is AME currency. Canada’s air regs say that if an AME has not recently wrote the exam, or worked full time in the trade for 6 months in the last two years – his or her license is not valid ( even though it has not expired ). With the problems caused by the virus, I think many AME’s will find their license is only a proof of previous experience. .Please check the regs to confirm what I said.

    1. You are correct on the regs as I have been there and done that after leaving the industry for a few years.

  19. I have not worked on the airline side of things but I have spent my time in the helicopter world and yes wages are an issue as well as shortages of AME’S, but what needs to happen are the tariffs need to increase so there is money to pay people. I have watched the cost of air travel get cheaper and cheaper for the customer,
    so the margins or bottom line of the business is getting tighter and tighter. This does not help the situation when fuel costs, part cost, training costs, aircraft costs, insurance costs, inflation………all have gone up but helicopter tariffs have not really moved for a very long time.

  20. It’s crap pay, crap schedule, no benefits over the top expectations and completely thankless in Canada . I’m in the helicopter world and it’s been getting worse each year since the last since the recession in 2009. Social media holds very few bars from peoples opinions of the trade. It’s a wonder ANYONE gets into this industry anymore.

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