Timing and Opportunities

Back to All Posts Plane taking off with A&P logo in the corner

Less than six months ago the U.S. aviation industry was scrambling to find new mechanics and pilots due to rapid growth and retirement of the Baby Boomers. In some cases airlines were offering $60,000 sign on bonuses to mechanics straight out of A&P school. Many companies were worried about being able to continue to operate and were creating huge recruiting departments and were looking to farm students at the high school level. 

Then Covid hit and literally within weeks all the hiring stopped and the demand in the civil sector dried up. The airlines laid off large numbers of the recruiting staff and stopped hiring. So it would seem to most people to be a waste of time to get an A&P when nobody is hiring, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Think of it like the stock market. Should you buy or should you sell when the market is depressed? Well the answer is that you buy when things are bad because it’s cheaper. Buy low and sell high. Eventually the commercial markets will return and a few things will have happened in the meantime.

  1. The Boomers will continue reaching retirement age and relocate to the rocking chair by the fishing pond. They rarely return to the active workforce.
  2. Some of those who are laid off or furloughed will find other jobs in other sectors and many of them will like the work and not return when things get better.
  3. Others will leave voluntarily just because they want to get away from the uncertainty and many of them will not return.
  4. Most of the people graduating high school will not think about getting an A&P because of the current hiring outlook for the airlines.
  5. Many military maintainers will either look for contract work that doesn’t require and A&P or they will leave aviation as a career.

So what does all of this mean? Just think of it this way. There was a huge shortage of A&P mechanics prior to Covid, and during the downturn none of that shortage is being replaced. The factory has stopped production and so when the demand comes back the shortage will be even worse than what it was before. And it takes a year at minimum for a Part 147 A&P school to put out a graduate.  There are tons of jobs in the airlines and aviation as a whole that require an A&P but aren’t mechanic jobs. The maintenance departments for airlines are filled with all sorts of management jobs that have an A&P as a prerequisite. And there are even military contracting jobs that pay more if you have an A&P.

So what do you want to do? Buy high and sell low by waiting to get your tickets and then compete with everyone else after the industry recovers? Or do you want to buy low and sell high by having your A&P before the industry recovers and get your pick of jobs?

How long will it be before the industry recovers? Nobody knows for sure because there are so many factors involved, but my guess is that once there are vaccines and good treatments then it will happen faster than what people expected. And if you have your A&P you will be in a good position to take advantage of the shortage. 

If you already have 30 months of aircraft maintenance experience, then Code 1 Maintenance can help you get your A&P in as little as two weeks. Contact us for more information.   

Dave Chamberlin