HVCC, Albany Airport creates an aircraft mechanic training school
COLONY – A new classroom and workshop in an aircraft hangar will prepare students for careers in aircraft repair and, hopefully, alleviate the growing shortage of mechanics in the industry.
The Hudson Valley Community College and the Albany County Airport Authority announced on Thursday a collaborative effort to launch the Aviation Training Institute.
The new program will be designed to train 40 to 50 students in both airframe and powertrain maintenance. The 1,900 hour program is intended to lead to federal certification for graduates; it can be a credit or a non-credit or a combination of the two.
Training is expected to begin in September 2022, and organizers will attempt to recruit women, minorities and other groups traditionally under-represented in the field.
Jobs pay well: the median salary for aviation mechanics and technicians is $ 54,000 per year in the capital region.
Airport Authority CEO Philip Calderone and HVCC Chairman Roger Ramsammy told a press conference their collaboration was a combination of an unmet need – the workforce of aircraft maintenance ages and retires faster as replacements are trained and hired – and an unexpected opportunity: the Plattsburgh-region’s BOCES program was ending its technician school and putting the equipment and program on sale. ‘studies.
Building a program from scratch and achieving FAA certification can take five years and cost $ 7 million, Calderone said. The purchase of the existing certified program from the Champlain Valley Educational Services Board of Cooperative Educational Services cost only $ 1.5 million and will be much faster to set up, even with the conversion from a high school program to a college program.
Calderone said graduates of the program will find a ready job market. Albany International’s three mechanical repair operators need mechanics, as do the much larger repair operations at large airports such as LaGuardia, Logan or JFK airports.
“I want them [to work] here, but I also want to create career opportunities for children in the region, ”he said. “We hope that we will have 40 to 50 graduates per year. Many of these children will be employed here with our three MROs, but others will find opportunities at other airports. “
Jonathan Ashdown, HVCC’s dean of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said the program will be open to students from the capital region and beyond.
This is the latest of HVCC’s collaborations designed to train students for specific industry needs, said Penny Hill, dean of workforce development and economic initiatives at the college. Another recent example has been the wind turbine tower manufacturing plant planned for construction in the port of Albany.
“It’s not sexy or glamorous, but it’s a high paying job that gives people a lifestyle,” she said of aircraft maintenance.
In addition to the technical skills needed to repair an airplane, some students will need to acquire the general skills needed for a job, Hill said.
“It’s a huge problem,” she said. “One of the things that is part of my job is to develop pipelines for people to enter the programs. They are not ready for a full degree; they might not be ready for this intensity. For manufacturing, I have a training camp that lasts two weeks.
Something like this might also be necessary with the aviation program, she added.
Albany County Director Daniel McCoy said completion of the program would be potentially transformational for students.
“These are the kind of programs that are going to make a difference in the life of someone in our underserved communities,” he said. “The market is here. We just need the people.
Rensselaer County Manager Steven McLaughlin said he needed (and got) that kind of break when he started out as a professional pilot.
“I got planes out of this hangar, I flew out of here, and I probably landed on these runways 5 or 6,000 times. Twelve thousand hours, and it all started here at Albany airport when someone gave me a chance, ”he said.
Up to 15 students in the new program will receive scholarships of up to $ 10,000 from the HVCC foundation. Tuition assistance will target students who live in areas of economic opportunity or who are members of under-represented groups in STEM fields, military veterans, and those who are underemployed or unemployed.
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