Aviation Electronics vs. Maintenance

As aircraft become more and more high tech, the lines between an avionics technician and an aircraft mechanic are blending together. This needs to be addressed in the training curriculum for new mechanics as technology, innovation and aircraft become more electronic.
In recognizing this, the FAA has an NPRM that proposes to amend the regulations governing the curriculum and operations of FAA- certificated Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools. The NPRM states, “These amendments would modernize and reorganize the required curriculum subjects in the appendices of the current regulations. They would also remove the course content items currently located in the appendices and require that they be placed in each school’s operations specifications so they could more easily be amended when necessary. The amendments are needed because the existing curriculums are outdated, do not meet current industry needs, and can be changed only through notice and comment rulemaking. These amendments would ensure that aviation maintenance technician students receive up-to-date foundational training to meet the demanding and consistently changing needs of the aviation industry.”
Initially, the comments were to close at the end of 2015 but the deadline for comments has been extended to February 1, 2016. So there is still time to get your comments in for consideration and who better to comment than those of you in the daily fight? Please, share your knowledge and expertise by commenting on this proposed rule change and don’t forget to thank Aviation Technical Education Council (ATEC), Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), Airlines for America (A4A), Aviation Suppliers Association (ASA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), Modification And Replacement Parts Association (MARPA), National Air Carrier Association (NACA) and other industry groups for petitioning to get that comment period extended.
Here at Aviation Maintenance, we are embracing these realities as well. You may have noticed over the course of the last year that we added a new section for avionics and aircraft electronics news. We are also publishing an aviation electronics eNewsletter in addition to our regular Aviation Maintenance eNews.
Furthermore, our parent company, Aerospace and Security Media, launched an aviation electronics event held in Munich, Germany last year. The event was a success and is being held again in Munich on April 20-21, 2016. Refer to pages 18-23 in this issue for the conference agenda, training and speaker information. More information and registration can be found here http://www.ae-expo.eu/. Please consider attending to keep your knowledge of the future of avionics up to date. We believe this is the future and the blending of maintenance and electronics will only surge ahead.
Speaking of the alphabet groups, mentioned earlier in conjunction with the extension of the NPRM, have you looked into what these groups can do for you and your company? If your company is not active in the regulatory environment already, joining the group that represents your interests is important. ARSA, MARPA, ASA and many others stand up for our industry in Washington. They make it their mission to fight for what is right for the aviation maintenance industry.
Leaders like Sarah MacLeod of ARSA, quoted in our “Avoiding FAA Fines” story on page 34 and Jason Dickstein of MARPA who regularly provides a column for the magazine, are well-versed in the legalities of the aviation maintenance business as well as the way to get things done within the government bureaucracy. They have made it their life’s work to protect the interests of their members. If your organization is not already a member of the association that represents your interests best, now is the time to join.
Lastly, as we went to press, the NTSB released its “Most Wanted” list, a yearly listing of their goals for improving aviation safety. It’s important to note that while none of the list directly calls out maintenance, several of the items impact all sectors of transportation. The first item that can be a factor for maintainers is to “reduce fatigue-related accidents.” Shift work, night work and working through until a write up is resolved can all lead to fatigue, so this is something MROs should continue to address.
Another item that can impact everyone in the aviation industry is “disconnect from deadly distractions” and I’m sure you can guess this is about electronic devices that rule our lives now. Being interrupted by a phone ringing or text chime during a procedure can distract and cause follow-up steps to be missed. Put a plan in place to prevent being distracted during procedural work.
And the last item that stood out to me is “end substance impairment in transportation.” Please seriously consider this. Do you know someone struggling with alcohol abuse? Prescription drug use? Or worse? It is very rare in our world since there is random drug testing required for most. But where there is a will, there is a way and addicts can be the sneakiest and cleverest at avoiding. If you know someone who is struggling, please reach out to them and help them get the help they need. Most companies will have a program through which help is available. The full NTSB Most Wanted list can be seen at www.ntsb.gov/safety/mwl.

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