This National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day, meet Hawaiian Airlines Portland Lead Aircraft Mechanic Martin Fruean: one of the first students to be accepted into Hawaiian’s Aircraft Mechanic Apprenticeship Program (AMAP). Fruean’s inspiring career journey started in 2006 when he became a contract service ramp agent at Hawaiian. Ten years later, he joined the carrier’s AMAP workforce development program launched in collaboration with Honolulu Community College (HonCC) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union to help train aspiring aviation mechanics.
Fruean became a part of Hawaiian Airlines’ history when he became one of the first seven students to graduate from the program. "I feel accomplished. I'm happy where I'm at. I wouldn't want to work anywhere but Hawaiian,” Fruean reflected. Since AMAP’s launch, Hawaiian has transitioned hundreds of HonCC students into well-paying aviation jobs and hired 36 program participants to help mālama (care for) its dynamic fleet.
Hawaiian has aggressively invested in career pipeline programs and integrated training opportunities to meet the industry’s growing need for skilled mechanics. In August 2022, it announced another innovative collaboration with HonCC to graduate more local students as highly skilled aviation maintenance technicians. Through the partnership, Hawaiian Airlines’ maintenance training instructors work side-by-side with students, sharing in-depth knowledge and offering hands-on learning to prepare them for the FAA Airframe and Power Plant Maintenance (A&P) certification.
“We are blown away and grateful for this partnership. I’ve been contacted by a couple of other schools on the mainland who've asked how this partnership came about because they also see it as a need within their communities,” said Karen Lee, chancellor of HonCC.
Apprentices take HonCC courses during the day and hold a part-time shift at Hawaiian’s aircraft maintenance hangar, where they get paid as mechanics performing repair and preventative maintenance.
“Previously, you had to show at least three to five years of experience before an airline would even look at you for hiring. Right now, with Hawaiian inputting into this school and taking people on in an apprentice program, there’s a direct pipeline into the industry which hasn’t happened before,” said Hawaiian Airlines AERO Instructor Glenn MacQueen.
“A lot of these students are here [at HonCC] because of current mechanics at Hawaiian Airlines who are telling them how great it is to be over there and what a great company it is to work for,” added Hawaiian Airlines AERO Instructor Jason Anderson. “They're going from knowing nothing about an airplane to then knowing the checklist and startup procedures for each one of these aircraft…that’s pretty impressive stuff.”
Anderson earlier this month took to the stage of the Tom Moffatt Waikiki Shell amphitheater to personally congratulate the AERO program’s latest cohort of graduates and award them a certificate of completion. In total, 18 students completed the course, and six of them will continue their apprenticeship at Hawaiian Airlines until they receive their FAA A&P certification and begin new-hire mechanic training this summer.