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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

We Must Grow Our Aerospace Workforce

•, by Felix Aviles

The jobs are plentiful, but the skilled workers are not. The leaders of the industry must do a better job of communicating with the next generation of aviation pilots, machinists, and mechanics. If they don't, the future of aerospace is in jeopardy.

A recently released industry report a detailed that "the aircraft mechanic shortage has reached a critical point" and the outlook for growth is precarious. This is detrimental not only to commercial aviation, but also national defense aviation. Without mechanics to service the U.S. aerial fleet, it's essentially useless.

In his testimony to the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee last fall, Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Ashish Vazirani said that the Pentagon missed its recruiting goals by roughly 41,000 recruits. He also noted that "the all-volunteer force faces one of its greatest challenges since inception" in 1973. As our fighting forces shrink, so does the number of skilled machinists, technicians and pilots that are trained to service our defense aircraft. This is exacerbating an already critical problem.

I spent my aviation career as an F-15 technician and crew chief in the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and later I was hired by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company which eventually merged with Boeing. Working on this first-class fighter jet gave me opportunities I never imagined, including traveling to Saudi Arabia to support and train officers in the maintenance of the F-15s for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) working on the F-15 C/D models. This is the most successful fighter jet in the world with an unbeaten combat record.

America's younger generation has so much to offer. The technologies that have developed since I began my career have advanced tremendously, and today's young people are already masters of it. The sky is the limit, literally. But they can't seize on aerospace careers if they don't know about them.

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