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CCAF offers FAA certification for engine maintainers

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFPN) -- After four years in development, a new certification program offered by the Community College of the Air Force could replace the title"aircraft mechanic" with "Federal Aviation Administration-certified aviation maintenance technician" in for airmen working on military aircraft.

The Joint Service Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council, chartered by the Department of Defense, recently developed and implemented an FAA-approved airframe and power plant training and certification program for airmen in the aircraft maintenance field, said Master Sgt. J. R. Breeding, CCAF's chief of aviation technical degree programs.

"For the Air Force, CCAF will manage and administer the program," Breeding said. "The primary goal of the Air Force was to develop a voluntary A&P certification program with tangible benefits for both the Air Force and the individual, and that has been accomplished."

The program standardizes and streamlines the eligibility process for aircraft maintenance troops in obtaining FAA A&P certification, he said. More than 1,700 airmen are currently enrolled in the program.

Benefits of the program are impressive, Breeding said, including 30 semester hours of college credit awarded by CCAF toward its Aviation Maintenance Technology Associate in Applied Science degree and an agenda that makes the airman a more "diverse and well-rounded" technician.

"It's been a long time coming and took a lot of work," said Tech Sgt. Gregory Doss, noncommissioned officer in charge of the FAA certification program for CCAF. "It promises to be a great program, and what we hear from supporters is, 'It's about time.'"

While it is an excellent recruitment and retention tool, more importantly, it helps the Air Force take care of our aircraft maintenance troops, Breeding said.

On-the-job and computer-based training and distance learning courses help mechanics obtain a certification that provides experience with and exposure to a broad range of aircraft systems, he said. Certification also can help the person get closer to earning a college degree.

"I feel troops will view the program as a valuable resource for developing critical skills for their Air Force careers and will also consider the program very beneficial for future civilian employment," Breeding said.

The commercial airline industry has expressed its approval of the program because of a projected 106,000 mechanic shortage by 2010, and retiring or separating servicemembers with the FAA certification will help fill that gap, said Tech. Sgt. Jason Munn, program manager.

For "cream of the crop" mechanics, who have a 7-skill level and extensive aircraft maintenance experience, the program fine-tunes their abilities, Sergeant said.

"If you have a technical degree from CCAF and an FAA certification, you are highly marketable in the aviation industry following retirement or separation," he said.

By charter, one voting member each from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard comprise the certification council. FAA and industry advisors and technical representatives from various disciplines round out the team.

The council meets annually to address issues of importance regarding all aspects of an aircraft maintenance technician's training and experience, and any military aviation technician may submit topics for consideration to the council through council members, the chairperson or a military service point of contact.

"Having CCAF involved from day one really sold the FAA on this program," Breeding said. "We have a professional relationship with the FAA. They know and value CCAF's institutional integrity." (Courtesy of AETC News Service)

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