Aviation Associates

To meet specific needs, Western Michigan University established positions designed to attract and retain aviation mechanics and certified flight trainers. The people holding such positions will be known as aviation associates and are required to hold airframe and/or powerplant licenses (aviation mechanics) or be certified flight trainers with certification satisfactory to the University for all times during their employment with University.

Aviation associate positions are normally 12-month, full-time positions. To keep aircraft in peak operating condition, aircraft and equipment mechanics perform scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections required by the Federal Aviation Administration. They also supervise work performed by non-certified individuals. Certified flight trainers offer ground, simulation, and flight training for University students and others as approved by the University to facilitate their achieving aircraft ratings.

Aviation associates are employees at will and as such have no property interest in the continuation of such employment. Aviation associates may be terminated without cause and without prior notice, and no reasons are required or must be stated for termination of employment.


While aviation associates may be eligible to attend meetings of the department(s) and the College of Aviation, they do not participate in governance at the department, college or University level.


The rate of compensation is established at the time of appointment or any subsequent written amendment to that appointment. Any adjustment to these rates is not automatic or included in any across-the-board raises that may be applicable to other University employees.

Certified flight trainers

The following compensation guidelines apply to certified flight trainers and follow a step-rate system based on billable instruction hours completed by the trainer at the University. Certified flight trainers are non-exempt.

Beginner Trainer:  Billable hours of training less than 350 hours

  • Trainer rate: $20 per hour.
  • Duty time flat rate: $20 per hour.

Regular Trainer*:  Billable hours of training 350 hours or more 

  • Trainer rate: $26 per hour.
  • Duty time flat rate: $20 per hour.

*A regular trainer must have acquired the instrument instructor rating on his/her flight instructor certificate.

Specialty Instruction**:  Billable hours of training less than 350 hours 

  • Trainer rate: $26 per hour.  
  • Duty flat time rate: $20 per hour.

Specialty Instruction**:  Billable hours of training 350 hours or more

  • Trainer rate: $31 per hour.  
  • Duty flat time rate: $20 per hour.

**Specialty Instruction includes Upset and Aerobatic Instruction, Multi-Engine Instruction and Advanced Check Instructor (FAA Certification Test Evaluator).

Aviation mechanics

Aviation mechanic minimum, midpoint, and maximum pay rates will be commensurate with Grade E on the staff compensation system pay structure and follow any changes to the pay structure as they happen. Aviation mechanics are non-exempt. 


Aviation associates are provided the same leave from work benefits as provided to clerical-technical staff and are subject to University approvals. In addition, they will receive a Bronco Card, parking permit, and health insurance, with the same requirements and contributions as required of clerical-technical staff. Aviation associates are not eligible for (1) life insurance, (2) disability insurance, (3) the University's retirement plan, (4) University-paid health insurance upon retirement, (5) University retiree status, or (6) payoff of sick leave upon termination of appointment. It is expected that annual leave will be used before the appointment terminates. To be benefits-eligible, a singular position must be .69 FTE or greater.


Benefits eligibility is determined upon the FTE of a singular appointment. An aviation associate position shall not exceed 1.0 FTE.

Individuals appointed as aviation associates may have had limited or no professional employment prior to the appointment.

Employment as an aviation associate at WMU shall not exceed three years either in a singular appointment or by three consecutive one-year appointments.

Working conditions

Aviation mechanics usually work indoors but may also be required to work outdoors in adverse weather conditions. They often work under time pressure to maintain the availability of the equipment. Frequently, mechanics must lift or pull objects weighing more than 70 pounds. They often stand, lie, or kneel in awkward positions and occasionally must work in precarious positions.

Loud noise, vibration, and other uncomfortable working conditions are common. Aviation associates have a tremendous responsibility to maintain safety and other required standards, and one qualification for aviation associates is to be able to successfully handle and perform this tremendous responsibility to ensure safety of persons and property.

It is recognized that aviation associates may at times be required to work on the weekend or other times that the University may be generally closed.

Aviation mechanics


  • Ensure aircraft and other aircraft equipment are in peak operating condition by performing scheduled preventive maintenance and making timely repairs as needed.
  • Maintain timely, accurate records related to the maintenance performed on the aircraft.
  • Conduct required inspections following a schedule based on the number of hours the aircraft has flown, calendar days since the last inspection, cycles of operation or a combination of these factors and complying with FAA standards.
  • Upon completing all repairs, test the equipment to ensure that it works properly.
  • May troubleshoot to resolve problems, gather, and analyze diagnostic information, and perform direct examination of parts and equipment.
  • May supervise uncertified individuals who are performing repairs/maintenance.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Possession of valid, necessary FAA licenses (airframe mechanic or powerplant mechanic certificate) or military certification at all times during employment. Required to immediately notify supervisor if any license or certification is expired, suspended, or revoked.
  • Maintain airframe mechanic or powerplant mechanic certification or military certification at all times during the appointment period. Required to immediately notify supervisor if any certification is expired, suspended, or revoked.
  • Demonstrated high degree of mechanical aptitude.
  • Demonstrated skill in computer technology and aircraft systems to enable the diagnosis of complex aircraft systems.

Certified flight trainers


  • Deliver high-quality ground, simulator, and flight training to students and others in order to facilitate their successful certification.
  • Endorse students and others as appropriate who are seeking certification or ratings.
  • Maintain records related to pilot training.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • Compliance with all requirements and standards established by the University


  • Possession of the necessary certification and/or the instrument rating in the desired category and class from the FAA to provide the level of training needed.
  • Maintain a U.S. unrestricted Commercial Pilot Certificate or an ATP with an Airplane category rating and a Single-Engine Land class rating throughout the appointment period.
  • Maintain a U.S. Flight Instructor Certificate with an Airplane Single-Engine rating throughout the appointment period.
  • Maintain a valid FAA medical certificate throughout the appointment period.
  • Demonstrated level of flight time and experience deemed sufficient by the University.
  • Required to immediately notify supervisor if any required license or certification is expired, suspended, or revoked.

Other requirements

In instances where policies, requirements, and procedures are not addressed herein, aviation associates are subject to those published in the Employee Handbook for non-bargaining unit employees and other policies and requirements established by the University and/or the College of Aviation.

Effective Sept. 3, 2010. Revised Nov. 12, 2014. Revised June 8, 2021. Revised 7/1/2023.