The International Civil Aviation Organization foresees a global shortage of skilled aviation professionals 20 years from now.
By 2026, it says that over 350,000 pilots are needed to man 25,000 new aircraft, while 480,000 new aircraft technicians are required to maintain them.
As early as now, airline companies worldwide have started addressing the issue. For instance, Lufthansa Technical Training Philippines (LTTP), a Philippine branch of the German flag carrier Lufthansa Technik AG, has teamed up with the Far East Air Transport (FEATI) University, one of the Philippines’ leading engineering and aviation schools − to conduct training for aspiring pilots and aviation professionals.
This breakthrough collaboration is Lufthansa’s first with an Asian university.
AT PAR WITH GLOBAL STANDARDS
The special training course is called the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 66 Category A Program. The globally recognized program, which lasts from four months to two years, will equip trainees with the knowledge, skills, and attitude to prepare them for actual aviation maintenance and repair. It contains 12 EASA modules with topics on mathematics, physics, electrical, materials and hardware, maintenance practices, aviation legislation, and aerodynamics.
Qualified instructors, under the close supervision of LTTP, will handle the modules with are a combination of theoretical lessons, workshops, and computer-based training sessions. The program is open to all FEATI and non-FEATI students, as well as interested professionals. For the FEATI aeronautics and engineering students, the training course is already embedded in their curricula.
After finishing the course, the trainees will become eligible for the EASA Aircraft Maintenance License. The training will be held at the newly inaugurated FEATI Technical Training Facility in the FEATI campus in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
The inauguration and blessing of the facility held last Feb. 28 was graced by executives from local aviation firms, foreign diplomats, and local officials.
NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED
FEATI Joint Venture Programs director Cesar F. Domingo said that the training program is a very timely response.
“As a university, we need to fulfill our mission of being a learning environment, which helps (answer) to the need of the industry. When our students come out of the university, they should be job ready (and able to) handle the initial steps in becoming an aircraft mechanic,” he said.
FEATI’s new program, he added, provides a better alternative for popular degree programs such as Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM).
LTTP project managers Jerry Asidao and Joerg Fristschen said that the training course uses the same materials being used worldwide and will be handled by competent FEATI instructors who will also be trained according to international standards.
“We are trying to bridge the gap between the school and the industry by using our tools, our materials, our exercises, so the students can have a better feel once they enter the aviation industry,” Asidao explained.
Fristschen also pointed out that the course is actually not meant for the faint-hearted, but is nevertheless, fulfilling.
“A very important factor is that students are willing to study hard because the program is not easy, and it’s not easy to prepare the requirements. That’s the name of the game… Once they pass, they get certificates of recognition, land jobs, and work for a minimum of three years,” he said.
After such period, aviation mechanics can apply to become pilots.
“It is a matter of experience when they finally get the license. This license is a very big advantage. It will bring them everywhere because this is recognized by many MROs (Maintenance and Repair Organizations) abroad,” Asidao said.
Through the training course, Asidao hopes to be able to produce globally competent aviation professionals who will not only bring pride and honor to the country, but also help improve the standards of the local aviation industry.