A new partnership will help Hampton Roads aviation maintenance students land high-demand jobs. Boeing’s market outlook estimates there will be 769,000 new aircraft mechanics needed worldwide through 2038 — with 193,000 needed in North America alone. To fill that shortage of certified aviation technicians, the Hampton Roads-based Aviation Institute of Maintenance is partnering with Chicago-based AAR, the largest aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul station in North America, to enable local students to train at AAR's hangars, graduate with jobs and have the opportunity to lower student debt. That means local students will be interning for a company that services aircraft for numerous airlines including United, Southwest and Alaska. "It will be significant for the aviation workforce in Hampton Roads over the next decade," said Joel English, AIM vice president of operations. AIM finalized its agreement to join AAR's Eagle Career Pathway Program on July 25 at Town Point Club in Norfolk. Students finishing AIM's 23-month aviation maintenance program incorporating an AAR internship will be offered jobs on the company's team. "AAR is really, I think, taking the lead in developing more course strategies that really bring together aviation maintenance schools and developing this pathway for high school all the way through to the career," said Ryan Goertzen, AAR vice president of workforce development. It made sense for the company with about 3,000 technicians in maintenance, repair and overhaul to reach out to the largest school in its network creating airframe and power plant technicians, he said. AIM became the sixth institution in the career pathway program, which provides a level of training that exceeds Federal Aviation Administration standards and prepares students for entry to one of five U.S. AAR maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities. The program launched in October 2018. The program will also bring local students to one of AAR's facilities in Miami, North Chicago or Indianapolis and expose them to careers beyond aviation technician, Goertzen said. Students move through the ranks starting at apprentice and eventually up to a level one technician. “That’s really important because I think most people don’t understand where you can go by holding just your airframe and power plant certification,” he said. There are a variety of other positions they can aspire to achieve such as maintenance operations, management, quality control and safety, Goertzen said. And students have incentive to move up the ranks. English calculated that the average student can have three-quarters of their student loan debt taken care of by AAR. The average student loan debt is about $20,000. While each level comes with a pay increase, AAR adds a back-tuition payment of $5,000 for each level up to $15,000, Goertzen said. AAR’s commitment to a student’s salary, job path and future career is amazing on top of the fact that they are making a commitment to their past as well by paying down student loan debt, English said. “There is no other organization that is committed to student success in that way and that just makes me really proud to be a part of this,” English said. AIM currently has 12 campuses in 10 states, including its Norfolk headquarters, which will relocate to a 109,000-square-foot building on Little Creek Road in January. The larger space will enable AIM to incorporate a local high school program similar to what it has in other states.
Courtesy of Sandra J. Pennecke, Inside Biz, 757-222-5356, firstname.lastname@example.org