Date of Award

Spring 2023

Access Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation Business Administration


Aviation Business Administration

Committee Chair

Sohel Imroz

Committee Advisor

Janet Tinoco

First Committee Member

Jayendra Gokhale

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Hinebaugh

Third Committee Member

Joseph Keebler

College Dean

Shanan Gibson


Certified aviation mechanics are crucial to maintaining a healthy aviation industry in the United States. To fulfill this need, 14 CFR Part 147 aviation mechanic schools educate students under the supervision of the FAA. Though the demand for mechanics is projected to increase over the next 20 years, the supply is not expected to meet this demand. Therefore, the research discussed in this paper addressed this potential deficiency by asking two research questions. The first related to the factors students feel affect their employability, and the second was used to analyze whether the students learned these skills at school or through personal development.

To address the research questions, a Q-sort was conducted with recruiters in the industry. The recruiters organized 19 factors, which the researcher chose during the literature review, in order of importance to the industry. The 11 factors that rated the highest were then placed in a survey. Questions for each factor were chosen from published scales and combined into a survey that was administered in person and online.

After data cleansing, 210 records were used in the model. The first step of the analysis was to complete a confirmatory factor analysis in AMOS. The factors used in the model for the first question were the top four from the Q-sort results: technical skills, problem solving, reliability, and teamwork. The model fit was excellent, with a CFI of .977, TLI equal to .969, and RMSEA of .041. The covariance-based structural equation model (SEM) was then executed. Among all participants, none of the factors had a significant impact on self-perceived employability. However, after separating the data between participants who were employed and unemployed, the model was adjusted and the model fit maintained excellence. The new SEM analysis showed employed graduates felt problem solving significantly affected their employability. In contrast, unemployed students felt reliability significantly affected their employability.

For the second research question, the SEM analysis for combined employed and unemployed participants showed the critical skills for employability were being taught in 14 CFR Part 147 schools after model fit statistics of .918 CFI, .907 TLI, and RMSEA of .067 were found in the CFA. Once the data were separated into unemployed and employed participants, the employed group measured a significant and positive effect on the employability-critical skills being taught in the mechanic schools, whereas the unemployed participants did not. All three groups resulted in a nonsignificant effect of personally developed skills.

These results are critical for industry leaders to understand and incorporate into the education of aviation mechanics. Employability studies have been conducted in the business field for decades to understand and return the unemployed to employment. In the realm of education, results can help school leaders teach their students which factors are critical to employers and ensure these skills are highlighted in the curriculum. Within the aviation industry, this information can be used to address the growing gap between the supply and demand of qualified mechanics. If actions are not taken over the next few years, adverse effects, such as canceled flights, delayed deliveries, and increased costs will be felt throughout the industry.