For the second consecutive year, Hawaiian Airlines’ Technical Operations (Tech Ops) team earned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) Employer Diamond Award of Excellence – the agency’s top AMT honor.
Poʻokela (excellence) and innovation are core to Hawaiian’s strategy to succeed in its next growth period – which will include a new fleet of 12 Boeing 787-9s and a dedicated freighter operation for Amazon. To prepare for this phase of transformation, Hawaiian Airlines has been steadfast at building our workforce and recruiting for hundreds of positions essential to maintaining our high safety and reliability standards.
Hawaiian’s Tech Ops team is tackling the growing need for highly specialized labor by taking its workforce training and recruitment beyond the walls of the Charles I. Elliott Maintenance Facility, including hiring instructors to augment Honolulu Community College’s (HonCC) Aeronautics Maintenance Technology (AERO) program and streamlining training processes at North America maintenance bases to improve the efficiency of our new and current mechanic training.
To learn more about how we’re taking our aviation maintenance training and partnerships to new heights, we sat down with Beau Tatsumura, vice president of maintenance and engineering at Hawaiian Airlines.
First, can you explain what the Diamond Award means to Tech Ops?
The Diamond Award of Excellence is the FAA's highest award for aviation maintenance technicians and employers. It recognizes air carriers that initiate and sustain highly effective training programs with 100% of eligible technicians receiving an individual William (Bill) O’Brien Award in a calendar year. We are proud of this accomplishment earned by our technicians, and it means that all of our workforce is rated at the highest level of maintenance and safety standards.
In 2020, Tech Ops earned the Gold Award for 50% completion. How did you achieve 100% completion for the Diamond Award in 2021 & 2022?
We worked closely with the Tech Ops training team to ensure all our technician had the opportunity and time to complete the FAA’s prerequisite training during their required annual recurrent spotlight training. Each mechanic is tested in a series of modules according to the type of aircraft they are certified to repair during this training. Our quality assurance and training employees monitor our mechanics’ progress via programs that enable real-time tracking.
What are some other improvements made toward training efficiency for mechanics?
Hawaiian Airlines Training does a great job in providing core General Familiarization (GenFam) courses to our technicians, such as the ones covering the Airbus A330, Airbus A321neo and Boeing 717, so we didn’t have to make many adjustments. We did introduce advanced classes focusing on electrical wiring interconnection systems, fiber optics, nondestructive testing and A321 fire detection systems. These classes sharpen our mechanics’ existing skills so that they can be both preventative and better troubleshooters.
How has the addition of Hawaiian instructors to HonCC’s AERO program benefited students?
Having our instructors, Jason (Jay) Anderson and Glenn Macqueen, teach classes for HonCC’s Aeronautics Maintenance Technology (AERO) program will allow the college to double enrollment to 100 students by Fall 2023. The additional faculty also gives AERO program students greater access to extensive knowledge and apprenticeship that will foster a more productive learning environment. This translates to more opportunities to have students’ questions answered, help with studying, and access to the best industry practices from experts with various aviation maintenance backgrounds and who are dedicated to fostering a more dynamic and adaptable workforce.
What are some other forward-thinking workforce development programs being utilized by Tech Ops?
If we can encourage students to consider careers in aviation maintenance and engineering early, we can create a steadier pathway for their careers and for the future of our operations.
We’re working closely with a Hawaii-based Universal Technical Institute (UTI) recruiter to promote the aviation industry and get local high school students excited about AMT careers. Students who enroll with UTI attend Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanic training on the U.S. mainland and can return home and work in Hawaiʻi after they complete A&P certification.
Hawaiian Airlines and Embry-Riddle recently signed an agreement to become what we call Tier II partners, which allows transitioning military members who are enrolled at Embry-Riddle and have A&P certification to intern at Hawaiian. After completing their internship, we offer them an interview, and if they are the right fit, we bring them under our wing as a Hawaiian Airlines employee.