• A Beech A36 Bonanza in the maintenance hangar. (Steve Hitchen)
    A Beech A36 Bonanza in the maintenance hangar. (Steve Hitchen)

The Aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA) has blamed Part 66 Maintenance Training Organisations (MTO) for the poor hand skills of trainees coming into the aircraft maintenance industry.

Candidates for licensing are divided between those trained at Part 66 MTOs, and those trained at state-approved Registered Training Organisations, such as TAFE colleges.

According to AMROBA's Ken Cannane, the system of CASA Part 66 MTOs is too theoretical, meaning apprentice engineers are reaching the workforce without the necessary skills to perform even some basic maintenance for which CASA has qualified them.

"Those attending State RTOs seem to get better hand-skills than those attending CASA MTOs that lack hand-skill training," he told Australian Flying.

"The CASA training approach to support Part 66 licences has seen once-large apprentice training RTOs, such as Kangan-Batman in Victoria, Milperra TAFE in NSW and Queensland Institute of Engineering, closing.

"They no longer provide apprentice or CASA Part 66 licencing training. It has been a disaster – low practical skill training."

Part of the issue seems to be one of government funding. Part 66 effectively changed the RTO courses from training for a working environment to training to obtain a licence. As government funding is not available for licence training, many of the RTOs elected to shut down their aircraft maintenance programs, leaving the bulk of the training to MTOs.

"CASA's training is all about knowledge and [has] little practical skill training," Cannane laments.

Larger maintenance companies are often forced to further train people who are theoretically qualified, but the cost of doing so is prohibitive for smaller maintenance, repair and overhaul companies.

"Before a person (apprentice) performs maintenance tasks on an aircraft or aircraft component, the person should have the practical skills to perform the particular task," Cannane reckons.

"An employer cannot let a person learn basic skills on a customer’s aircraft or component.

"Customers expect quality workmanship."

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