NCAI’s core purpose is promoting aviation career pathways in Northern California. The Workforce Development Committee is tasked with promoting existing pathways into aviation vocations, and exploring innovations that will lead to new pathways with lower barriers to entry for prospective workers.
The pilot career pathway has traditionally been a challenge, owing largely to opportunity and expense. In 2017, the FAA reported a total US pilot population of 609,306, of which 98,161 held a commercial pilot certificate, and 159,825 were Airline Transport Pilots. Flight Instructors numbered 106,692, though many instructors maintain their certificate but do not actively instruct (airline pilots, for example).
While not all aviators want to become commercial or airline pilots, the first hurdle for aspiring pilots remains the initial private pilot license (or sport pilot license, for some). A growing shortage of instructors makes earning this certificate even more challenging. With training costs ranging from $8000-15,000 for an initial license, NCAI seeks to lower this barrier with future scholarship programs, as well as exploring and promoting innovations including certified electric aircraft for flight training.
Aviation Maintenance Technicians
The shortage of qualified Aviation Maintenance Technicians reflects several trends, including the growing global fleet of aircraft as well as current aircraft mechanics aging out of the workforce. Northern California’s healthy aviation economy means that a mechanic shortage represents both a workforce development challenge as well as a tremendous opportunity for career technical education students. Growing this career pathway will involve educating students about existing FAR Part 147 career training programs in the community college system, and promoting FAR Part 65 apprenticeship with local aircraft maintenance businesses.
Drone Operators – Part 107
The field of small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) or “drones” is one of the most exciting new opportunities for aspiring young aviators. The unexplored potential of this segment coupled with relatively low barriers to entry for commercial operation make for an exciting combination. Did you know that high school students can earn a commercial drone operator certification from the FAA? Our workforce development efforts in the unmanned field are to aid students of all ages in earning this professional certification, and then explore avenues to exploit and monetize the unrealized potential of unmanned aerial operations.