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East Coast Wages


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This issue AME hours of work has been on going for a number of years and in the helicopter industry in my opinion be very difficult to maintain compliance. I’ve spent 30 years in the rotary industry and things haven’t changed much since I started. My last position as a Q/A manager with a company in Alberta I found myself coming to loggerheads many, many times with the operations side of management. My concern was the lack of licensed AME’s compared to the long hours and the growing fleet numbers in addition to the 2003 fire season approaching. Each time I voiced my concerns as the Q/A manager the operations manager elected to wave the back of his hands and the continued reading of the riot act “there is the door”, "there is the door". Combined with “there won’t be much of a fire season so why do we need to hire”, we all know where the fire season went in western Canada in 2003. The PRM at the time was at a loss and I went in on his behalf.


I went so far as to put my Q/A position on the line in support of the DOM, production manager and all of our maintenance staff. I lost my job only due to my strong beliefs and my reluctance to back down from management’s threats. After my departure half the quality pilots and engineers departed, and a good friend, who worked for this one horse company run by a three-fingered philosopher, well he was worn out. I found that this particular commercial companies operations side ran the AMO and elected to dictate as such. The AMO falls under the DOM or the PRM in which is ultimately the owners’ responsibility, not the operations manager. That led to a number of communication breakdowns due to ones inflated ego and his reluctancy to hire qualified AME’s. What I found during my audit of the previous year was apprentices were forced to carry out maintenance that was a requirement of a licensed AME with no log entry and in most cases tolerance inspections were signed and not inspected via apprentice courier to the AME. I did my best, the pressure of making money and managements’ pressure over came…..I agree, we have to make money. But at what cost?


I think what it’ll come down to will be AMO establishing and maintaining a Fatigue Risk Management System of some sorts and in some cases will marginally meet the requirements in 573.16 (1) due to front office or managerial pressure. Where it might get a little interesting would be with government contracts such as forestry that will monitor or even enforce working hours of AME’s much like those on the flight operations side, like the Ontario MNR. Never the less it’ll be interesting.


As “####” stated if you haven’t taken an HF course then you should. I think that upper management should take it, we all know that anyone with technical responsibilities, AME’s, parts people, pilots certified with “Elementary Tasks" approval HF is all mandatory. What about those in the front office?


I have attended 3 HF and 2 HF refreshers including one at Bell in Tx, each one of the concerns of all those who attended was to include upper management.


Just an opinion…..

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Forgive my ignorance gentlemen but where would you recommend going in western Canada for an HR course, and what critical types of questions would you ask of the people teaching the course?


It always has amazed me the quality and amount of training required for pilots and the absolute lack of any quality training for engineers. I have brought this up before at different companies but ...... I think that if smaller companies pooled their resources together for training such as electrical troubleshooting or such then it would be a great benefit. I have seen larger companies set up in house courses but seemed rather half hearted.


The duty times for engineers is beginning to be regulated by some oil companies to be the same as pilot. I do not see any reason why it shouldn't be. I don't know how many times I have worked with a ame who worked half the night only to get up and see me off, I don't know how they do it. Sometimes it is necessary and have tried to ensure the guy gets some rest in the day. Am quite capable of refuelling and doing my own windows through out the day, but some fellas have a trailer ball hitch to their *** and can't seem to get out of the a/c. If the company paying the camp costs all of a sudden has to pay for another ame or helper then you can bet they will back off on the pressure to not shut down for fuel in the day. Some medium or larger aicraft are under considerable pressure to keep going thru the day, the operators should ensure that they are forefront with advising the customer of some upfront costs soming down the pike asap.


These new regs may indeed be a drag but if we the industry reflect them in a positive manner to our customers then it may become an opportunity to bring the standard up and get more help to our overworked AME's.


A negative can only be changed to a positive with a positive attitude!

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Skullcap......one I can recall was sitting on a cargo rack of a 47 J2A in the NWT swatting bugs covered in bug juice doing a couple of pushrod seals. I worked thru night, good thing I had daylight till 3AM, anyway I saw the pilot I worked with off, check for leaks and all was well, this only a few hours later........Cause I wasn't there when he came back for fuel 60 minutes later (because I was worn out) he went nuts!!!


I agree with what you mentioned about the ball hitch........however, I did not mind doing the little extras, refuelling and doing windows and washing the aircraft. I am one of those AME's that takes pride in the job and my signature. In most cases I got along very well with the flt crew, we had mutual respect and good communication. When a customer can see that kind of harmony he quite often requested the same flt crew back if the contract was renewed the following year.


In my Q/A role I always made it a point to ensure that all flt ops personnel were well versed and trained in “Elementary” tasks including taking the fear out of making proper log entries for 625 appendix “A” tasks and defect entries. I could see that it made them feel pretty good about themselves and that we as AME’s were there to help them.

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Guest graunch1

Unfortunately this issue has been around forever. The AME in my opinion will seldom complain, whereas pilots always are complaining - this is not a dig at pilots but in reality a fat of life as the two professions are diametrically opposite each other in personality traits. The pilot -who has a year or so under his belt will make more $$ for less time than the 20 year AME because with no pilot the a/c can't fly - with no AME it still can.

The AME associations we formed over 20 years ago have been a total waste of time and effort as they have done nothing to improve the wages or working condiitons for AMEs. I am will to guess that the $10 per hour salary in 1973 is far more than the $30 salary in 2004 when inflation and cost of living have been factored in.

Try and explain the fact that a $200 million aircraft with 350 pax or a $5 million heli that is carrying 6 millionaires on a ski trip is only worth $28 per hour to maintain.................

My kids looked at as if I was nuts when I told them this and they went into careers that paid appropriate to their skills and responsibilities, all three make more per year than I do after 4 decades twisting wrenches, I'm glad they did.

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