New generation aircraft with the regularly upgraded computing systems and new types engines require increasingly high investment into the infrastructure of aircraft maintenance training as nowadays the existing specialists need to constantly upgrade their knowledge in order to stay on top of these changes. The trend does not by-pass the field of avionics, too. As airlines tend to operate more and more new aircraft models with the latest digital avionics, they demand more comprehensive avionics support and extra flexibility with respect to avionics life-cycle support. The latest Boeing Current Market Outlook forecasts the long-term demand for 34 000 new aircraft, which will replace the older, less efficient ones, thus benefiting airlines and passengers, stimulating growth in the emerging markets and promoting innovation in general. The demand for avionics technicians appears even getting stronger.
‘It is only natural that the increasing demand for next generation aircraft accelerates the popularity of specialized aviation training programs. The field of avionics is no exception. Nowadays airlines require an airframe and power plant license together with the specialized avionics or electronics training,’ - said the Deputy Head at FL Technics Training Dainius Sakalauskas. ‘Moreover, with the increasing number of NG aircraft, avionics is among the top five contributors to AOG situations. About 30-50% of AOG situations worldwide are related to aviation electronics. Needless to say, such high percentage is also a contributing factor in today’s aviation specialist’s employment market.’
In order to become an avionics technician, a student has to complete the required formal education as well as on-the-job training. Whilst training, avionics technicians study avionics, avionics repair and other related subjects. As professionals, they perform a variety of tasks to ensure that all the electrical components of an aircraft are in full order and well-functioning. They are also responsible for analysing and inspecting airplane computer and electronic programs as well as repairing these systems should they malfunction.
Avionics technicians or mechanics are traditionally paid well due to the delicate nature of their work. An avionics technician with less than 1 year experience is subject to an average hourly rate ranging between $16.00 and $18.43. Those with 1-4 years’ experience earn from $15.00 to $21.98 per hour. The skills of the mechanics also affect their salary greatly.
Those avionics technicians, who learn their skills on the job only are paid less and have fewer opportunities than those who study at one of the aircraft maintenance training organisations certified by EASA or FAA. Though the actual training lasts from 12 to 24 months, students can gain deeper knowledge and enjoy better career opportunities.
According to D.Sakalauskas, employment prospects are especially favourable for avionics specialists with advanced training and extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need for avionics maintenance. ‘Modern aviation maintenance institutions must be able to produce competent maintenance personnel with up-to-date knowledge and practical skills,’ concluded D.Sakalauskas.