Let’s face it - most documentaries about aviation and aviation jobs don’t focus on aircraft mechanics. As critical as the work is, it’s just not the work that garners media attention or that most passengers really think too much about – unless, of course, they have a maintenance delay before take-off. What’s out there in the media is usually about the men – and sometimes now the women – who fly the planes. Yes, of course, those jobs are important; I’d never say they weren’t. But a little attention to the critical importance of maintenance would mean a lot both for the people who do the work and for the future of aviation, itself.
A positive public view of aviation maintenance and the professionals who do the work is good for many reasons. Some of the benefits of being viewed positively are intangible. Those benefits may not have a concrete value or even be easy to describe. And yet isn’t it important to feel that the job you do day in and day out matters? If you’re like me, I like to feel that the profession we’ve chosen is valued and appreciated, especially by the flying public whose lives are literally in our hands.
But some of the value of public recognition of the importance of the aviation maintenance professional and the job he or she does can be very tangible indeed. Respect for the critical nature of the knowledge and skill necessary to perform maintenance can translate into higher pay and benefits. It’s tough to be well-paid if your work isn’t valued. It’s also tough to attract young people into the profession if the work isn’t viewed publicly in a positive light. And we all know that there is a looming critical shortage of aviation professionals. We need positive portrayals of what we do and its significance to keeping planes flying – and flying safely – to retain our existing workforce and to encourage high school and college students to consider aviation maintenance as a profession.
So I was very pleased to see that ARSA’s recently released video titled You Can’t Fly Without Us: The World Of Aviation Maintenance is a nicely done celebration of the importance of aviation maintenance and aviation mechanics. With a focus on repair stations – after all that’s what the Aeronautical Repair Station Association is all about – the video is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=33&v=0OEt6SkdA4M. I think it’s a nice depiction of the importance of maintenance to flying safely and the mechanic’s work. The video can be used by mechanics at repair stations or anywhere to highlight the importance of the work they perform. It can also be used when speaking at schools on career day. Or in other venues where an introduction to aviation maintenance is needed. Heck, show it to your families. So they know the critical nature of the work you do.