By Becky Meyer
Director of HR for Elliott Aviation
In our growing industry, many aviation companies struggle with recruiting top talent. While various challenges and factors exist, the biggest hindrance is attributed to lack of experience in positions, especially maintenance and avionics technicians. According to a survey issued by AIN , they show that 96% of the corporate aviation companies are looking to grow their staff while only 1 percent is forecasting a decline. With such a competitive market, it forces companies to look at many different ways to attract talent.
From a recruiting standpoint, we focus on our history and values. As a second-generation, family owned company, Elliott Aviation has been buying, selling and working on aircraft since 1936. Our values of unmatched quality, uncompromising integrity and unbeatable customer service serve as checks and balances for all of our employees. This simplifies our ability to make key tough decisions. If you come to work focused on those three key values, you are doing the right thing every day.
One of our successful strategies is hiring active and retired military veterans. Hiring from the military has proven to be fruitful for the aviation industry as well as Elliott Aviation. Military personnel bring a strong worth ethic, experience, and positive attitude to the industry. With on-the-job training and experience shown on their DD Form 214, we are able to help them obtain their A & P Certificate. This program allows us to build and retain a solid workforce.
Another pipeline of talent derives from graduates with an Airframe & Powerplant Certificate from colleges throughout the United States. However, location becomes a factor because many of the students attend local colleges to complete their degree. After school, employers battle with trying to relocate potential candidates. This presents employers with the challenge of creating lucrative incentives and benefits programs to attract and relocate talent to a new town.
>p>An area of long-range opportunity is high school students enrolled in auto mechanic courses. Currently, students and academic programs are pushing towards the diesel mechanic or auto mechanic profession without exploring aviation as a possibility. Our HR department connects with local schools to educate students about the possibilities of working in aviation. Additionally, we have conducted presentations and communicated with the Boy Scouts of America for an Aviation Explorers program.
Not only is recruiting key to this industry, but retention is also a priority. Having a well-thought out and educational onboarding program is crucial. Is it impetrative that companies establish a solid onboarding program because it presents the tools to help the employees succeed. Because of this, we are always building and expanding our program. Onboarding covers all paperwork, safety and technical training for the first week of employment. The employee is then assigned to a mentor for on-the-job training to ensure the proper skills and techniques are learned.
Currently our Quality Control Manager is working with the FAA to inquire about becoming a DME in order for employees to take their Oral and Practical testing onsite.
Becky Meyer comes to Elliott with 15+ years of Human Resource Management experience. Her career began working for the first Riverboat Casino business in Iowa where she specialized in Payroll. She then expanded her career and knowledge to the HR field in manufacturing and now aviation.
The general aviation industry is searching for an alternative for 100 low lead avgas (100LL). But it is really necessary?
By now we all know that human exposure to lead is unhealthy – most commonly, exposure to lead causes neurological problems in children and cardiovascular problems in adults. We’ve probably all made sure that our walls weren’t once painted with leaded paint and our lead pipes aren’t corroding and contaminating our drinking water. But have you considered that general aviation aircraft operations are the main source of lead pollution today? Those who work in and around small piston aircraft might be exposed to harmful lead pollution – and the EPA and FAA are ready to do something about it.
"Emissions of lead from piston-engine aircraft using leaded avgas comprise approximately half of the national inventory of lead emitted to air," claims the EPA. The organization estimates that about 41,000 tons of lead from avgas was emitted between 1970 and 2007. And, According to an EPA factsheet, the concentration of lead in the air increases near general aviation airports due to the use of 100LL fuel.
But our air quality is fine, right? And people have been using 100LL for years without adverse health affects…right? This might be true, but general aviation’s lead problem, while seemingly minor, is not a small problem at all.
Lead emitted from general aviation flight operations not only pollutes the air in and around airports, but it’s capable of traveling great distances before accumulating on the ground and in ground water. And, because there is no level of lead that is said to be safe when it comes to human exposure, the EPA and other environmental groups are pushing for the aviation community to adopt a lead-free fuel.
While many in the industry agree that it’s time to make the switch to an alternative fuel, others aren’t quite sure it’ll be worth the price. To the author’s knowledge, there have been no studies regarding the amount of lead in humans that work or live around general aviation airports, nor has there been any actual emissions testing on aircraft that operate with 100LL fuel. The EPA and other organizations have assumed that the hazard exists based on the amount of lead in avgas, and the fact that avgas is the only leaded fuel out there, leaving some people wondering if the problem even exists at all.
Regardless of the lack of information, the FAA has declared its agreement with the EPA and is taking steps toward a lead-free future, noting that general aviation aircraft are the only type of fuel-burning transportation that still uses leaded fuel.
In July 2014, the FAA received nine proposals for alternative fuels that would replace 100LL avgas, including proposals from Afton Chemical Company, Avgas LLC, Shell, Swift Fuels, BP, TOTAL, and Hjelmco. For the next few years, the FAA will be testing and evaluating these fuels during a two-phase, six million dollar per year program called the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). They hope to have a solution that satisfies the entire general aviation fleet of 100LL users by December 2018.
As an aircraft owner, you might not be worried about air quality around airports or exposure to lead through your own piston aircraft use. But the transition to lead-free fuel is happening, and the bigger problem here is that an alternative fuel will affect all 100LL users in the not-so-distant future. Before long, aircraft owners could be faced with buying a new engine or at the very least, a certification process for a new fuel type. While the FAA hopes to find a fuel that will keep all aircraft flying, there is bound to be a cost associated with keeping 100LL aircraft in the air in the post-100LL days. And if you thought today’s avgas is expensive, a new type will probably cost even more.
Diesel might be the way to go, after all.
What are your thoughts? Is the creation of a lead-free fuel a necessary step into the future for GA, or have environmentalist organizations created a problem that doesn’t really exist? Comment and let us know!