"It is time for Australian aircraft maintenance training and licensing to be reformed and to meet international standards," suggests Associate Professor Ian Hampson, from the UNSW Business School.

His comments follow a forum of 70 experts from government and industry representatives who grappled with the challenge of reforming Australian aircraft maintenance training and licensing. The forum and workshop was held at UNSW Sydney and organised by UNSW Business School and Regional Development Australia (RDA) Sydney.

"As a matter of urgency, the relevant agencies need to continue to consult, and to arrive at a consistent position about aligning Australian aircraft maintenance training and licensing with international standards," he suggests. "Not to do so will leave Australian industry out of the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) boom."

However, he has some provisos, and suggests this depends on:

  • The ability of Australia to organize its training and licensing regulatory arrangements.
  • Negotiations between the Government and EASA.
  • There was overwhelming agreement among the 70 forum attendees to continue to work collaboratively to advocate and progress key policy changes and ensure that Australian aircraft maintenance training and licensing meets new international standards, in both civilian and Defence sectors, to enable the growth of an export industry.

    However, the forum found there are some serious issues to be addressed:

    • A shortage of qualified and licensed aircraft maintenance personnel is affecting the aviation industry worldwide, as airlines increase their fleets to meet rising passenger demand. 
    • In the Asian region, the expansion of the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry provides a big export opportunity for the Australian training industry. 
    • Training in Asia may not produce enough graduates that meet international standards.  The consequences could affect maintenance safety in the region. 
    • To meet industry and export needs, it is urgent to ensure that Australian maintenance training is approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and meets the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). 
    • This will require a solution to the problem that since 2011, EASA-based licensing has been hard to mesh with the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system. 

    For further details, contact:

    Ian Hampson i.hampson@unsw.edu.au 0403 620703

    Media contact: Julian Lorkin: 02 9385 9887