While the aviation industry is growing at a rapid pace, the current reality is that less than 6 percent of the global population of pilots today are female or minority. The current aviation infrastructure does not meet the global demand, and Southern Utah
University Aviation is doing their best to help.
Michael Mower, executive director and chief flight instructor for Southern Utah University Aviation, explains that the industry in and of itself has fundamentally changed in the last decade.
“10 years ago, we had, from an airline standpoint, Delta and United and that was it. When we evaluate the marketplace now, there are carriers the same size as Delta, United, American, that simply didn't exist before. The mid-east has exploded from just a sheer need for air transportation, and that in conjunction with the growing retirement of not only pilots and mechanics, created a perfect storm.”
Boeing alone projects that over the next 18 years they will need over 600,000 pilots and 700,000 maintenance workers. Airbus, comprising the majority of the commercial airlines, will need 500,000 pilots and 500,000 maintenance. Between the two of them, they anticipate needing around 2 million cabin crew members.
Aviation is an industry where you're judged based on your work and what you bring to the table versus what you look like or what your gender is. And SUU Aviation would like to see more of the pilot and maintenance positions filled by women.
“Physically, there's no difference between men and women when it comes to flight or cabin crew or maintenance,” said Mower. “These are just amazing careers and it really pains me when I run into somebody that says, ‘well, I didn't think that I could get into that because I'm of the wrong ethnicity’ or ‘I'm a female.’ And to me, that tells me that we're not doing a good enough job of getting that information out there.”
Jared Britt, director of Global Aviation Maintenance Training at SUU Aviation, shares the story of Shana Bartell, a student working to become a professional pilot as well as being an apprentice on the aviation mechanic team. This allows her to work towards her Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics License, while continuing to attend school and provide for her family.
“Shana came to work in the Aviation Maintenance Department as a student worker in July 2017. She was chosen because of her hard work ethic and drive. Aviation Maintenance requires your full attention when you are working, and Shana was very good at being focused during her shift. Shana learned very quickly and became knowledgeable in the aspects of aviation maintenance. She proved to be an asset to the maintenance team.”
“I dream often of the life this will give my family,” said Bartell. “I look to inspire my children, my little sister, other students, and single mothers by showing them that with enough work, you can make incredible things happen.”
Michael Mower Executive Director of SUU Aviation / Chief Flight Instructor
Specializing in pilot training, advanced and aerobatic helicopter flight, aviation safety, and aerial search and rescue
Jared Britt Director of Global Aviation Maintenance Training
Britt is driving change in aviation technician schools across the U.S. and recently passed a bill included in the FAA Reauthorization Act.