One of the last thoughts most people want to think about while boarding an airplane is how regular an aircraft is maintained. Aircraft maintenance is one of the best when it comes to mechanics and quality of work. Aircraft technicians are trained to be very precise and meticulous about how their work is carried through. Often times these technicians are poached from the industry they trained for to work as rollercoaster technicians, Nascar mechanics, and wind farm mechanics.
Boeing estimates between 2019 and 2038 North America will need approximately 193,000 (out of 769,000) aviation mechanical technicians to maintain the growing fleets of aircrafts. Approximately 82% will be commercial aircraft technicians, 12% will be private business aircraft technicians, and 6% helicopter technicians. In the current workforce, the average age of an aircraft technician is 51 years old with more than a quarter of aircraft technicians being over 64 and close to retirement age. With a retiring workforce, North America is facing a shortage of aircraft technicians.
Utah State University understands the shortage and is working to produce a trained workforce. Currently, the aircraft technician program is housed on the Logan, Utah campus. The program has over 150 students seeking either an associate or bachelor degree in Aviation Technology – Maintenance Management. Over the course of roughly 4 years, the students are prepared for entry-level positions within the airline industry and corporate and general aviation by acquiring skills in-flight principles and aircraft structures, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft systems through hands-on experience while working closely with professional instructors (USU, Aviation Technology Degree).
Carbon County is excited to be working with Utah State University Eastern to bring the Aviation Technology – Maintenance Management program to Price, Utah. Partnerships are forming between Carbon County, Utah State University Eastern, Economic Development Administration (EDA), Utah State legislators, and Southeastern Utah Economic Development District (SEUEDD) to make the program come to fruition. The reasons to expand Logan’s program to Carbon County are:
- Carbon County has the third longest runway behind Salt Lake International Airport and Provo Municipal Airport in the State of Utah.
- Access to recreational opportunities and quality of life
- Smaller classrooms and shorter commutes
- More land and space for flights, storage, growth and events
The goal is to have the technician program in operation by Fall 2021 in Carbon County through Utah State University Eastern. However, over $4 million will need to be secured to have the program fully functioning. This includes the construction of an 80 ft by 120 ft hangar at the Carbon County Airport with classroom space, tools and engines to practice on, and other technology to support the mechanics and frame maintenance and repair.
Looking through an economic development lenses, Carbon County is looking forward to is remote working and retaining the aircraft technicians to work and live in Carbon County. In the industry of aircraft mechanics, many of the jobs aren’t like the tradition mechanics shop people take their automotives to have mechanics work on. Instead, aircraft technicians are assigned to aircrafts (like with fire-fighting aircrafts) and are transported to be with the aircraft— regardless of where the technician lives. Another interesting component could be the draw of airline-related industry and business to locate to Carbon County.
With the expansion of the aviation technician program to Carbon County, there is hope that other aviation programs will follow. Utah State University Eastern already implements a pilot program at the Carbon County Airport.