Skip to Highlights
Highlights

The safety of millions of airline passengers depends in part on aviation mechanics--known as A&P mechanics--that are certified to inspect, service, and repair the aircraft's body (airframe) and/or engine (powerplant). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establishes the requirements to become certified as an A&P mechanic. Concerns have been raised in the aviation industry about having a sufficient number of A&P mechanics over the long term. GAO was asked to determine how many aircraft mechanics and service technicians the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects will be employed in 2010, and the reasonableness of that projection; the sources that supply and train A&P mechanics and the likelihood that they will provide a sufficient number through 2010; and what is being done by FAA and the aviation industry to ensure that the skills of A&P mechanics are sufficient to work on technologically advanced aircraft?

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to review the minimum A&P curriculum required for FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician schools and identify courses that do not reflect widely used aircraft technology and materials on commonly flown major commercial aircraft. These courses should be de-emphasized or replaced with courses that address current conditions.
Closed - Implemented
In January 2005, FAA issued a revised Advisory Circular with new technology and curriculum changes for use by FAA-approved schools.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to ensure that changes to the A&P school curriculum are reflected on the mechanic's certification examination, thus ensuring that all candidates for the A&P certificate meet the same standards.
Closed - Implemented
In March, 2003, we reported that the required aviation mechanic curriculum at FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician schools was outdated and primarily geared to smaller, less complex aircraft that do not transport significant numbers of passengers and, according to many in the aviation industry, not relevant to most of the aircraft flown today. In particular, the stakeholders we surveyed indicated that computer-related subjects should receive greater emphasis within the current curriculum. Other courses and technologies suggested by some officials with the commercial air carriers that we interviewed include composites and repair of turbine engines. We recommended that FAA make changes to the curriculum, and in 2005, FAA issued an Advisory Circular with new technology and curriculum changes for use by FAA-approved schools. FAA is also responsible for ensuring that changes to the mechanics' curriculum are incorporated into FAA's certification exam. We therefore also recommended that FAA take steps to ensure that any changes to the curriculum are reflected in the certification exam to ensure that all candidates for the certificate meet the same standards. In response, FAA has made several changes to its publications in 2014 and 2015, and in October 2015 initiated a rulemaking to amend the regulations governing the curriculum and operations of FAA-certificated Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools to ensure that changes to curriculum can be made readily when needed and reflected in the certification exam. These actions will ensure that aviation maintenance technician students receive up-to-date foundational training to meet the demanding and consistently changing needs of the aviation industry.

Full Report