AoC number


Primary domain


Secondary domain



The underlying knowledge of why ANS systems are designed as such, how key maintenance is to be performed, and why resulting ATC operational rules are as they are is being lost. Contributing factors include, long design cycle times, extended hardware life, and failure to document and archive design data, initial specifications, test data, and lessons learned. This has a number of ramifications not just for airlines, but for regulators, as performance-based regulations come into wider use (see AoC_058).

An adequate number of skilled people are required to maintain expertise. However, maintenance personnel are currently suffering from a shortage which is projected to last many years (see AoC_254). This reduction in skilled maintenance personnel has coincided with an increase in the complexity of ANS systems. In the future, complex, integrated aircraft will require more and more automation for fault detection, diagnosis, and resolution. In addition, new diagnostic and prognostic safety analysis will require electronic tracking of maintenance findings and actions.
Servicing of advanced avionics will require specialized skills, yet training in disciplines such as composite material repair, nondestructive inspection, solid-state electronics/avionics/built-In test equipment, principles of troubleshooting and human factor is currently only an option within maintenance training curricula.

Potential hazard

  1. Wholesale retirements in the current generation of aviation professionals
  2. Aviation professions not attractive enough to potential candidates
  3. Competition with other industry sectors for skilled employees
  4. Training capacity insufficient to meet demand
  5. Learning methodologies not responsive to new evolving learning style
  6. Lack of access to affordable training
  7. Lack of harmonization of competencies in some aviation disciplines
  8. The loss of experience, safety culture, and tribal knowledge may be a bigger issue than overwork and fatigue.

Corroborating sources and comments

2014 – Emirates Airways delivering air traffic control training to up to 200 students per year at the College’s new purpose-built campus in Dubai over the next five years. Vice Chancellor of Emirates Aviation College, Dr. Ahmad al Ali, said that the partnership fills a critical gap in the Middle East region for the training for air traffic controllers. “There is a global shortage of air traffic controllers, which has serious repercussions for the aviation industry – particularly in this part of the world where air traffic is expected to continue growing. This new joint venture allows us to capitalize on Airways’ 20 years of experience in training controllers around the world, and to provide a highly-specialized resource that our industry so desperately needs for future development,” said Dr. Ahmad al Ali. (Dennis Mullenberg, president and CEO of Boeing, testified before the Senate that “about 50% of our top mechanics and engineers” would hit retirement age in the next five years. One-third of FAA maintenance personnel will also be eligible to retire, and projected replacement rates aren’t enough to satisfy the aviation industry.)

Last update

2017-08-28 (to be added link 254)