Officials announce London-Corbin Airport to be part of new EKU aviation maintenance technician program
With demand for trained aviation maintenance technicians expected to soar in the next few years, a new program, announced yesterday by federal and state officials, is being launched to address the need; and one local airport will be a site where hands-on training is slated to take place.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin was joined by U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, Eastern Kentucky University President Michael T. Benson and Appalachian Regional Commission federal co-chair Tim Thomas for a series of stops Monday to announce the program at regional airports in Kentucky yesterday. Locally, the group was at the London-Corbin airport, which will be used as a site for hands-on training.
“We are thrilled to launch a program that will help Kentucky’s workforce with a highly sought skill that is relevant to our region’s economic and industrial growth, most notably the region’s emerging aerospace industry cluster,” said EKU President Michael Benson. “This FAA certified program will be strategically located within Kentucky’s Appalachian counties so those who need to train can become certified aviation mechanics without having to leave their communities.”
The program is being jumpstarted by a $1.46 million “POWER” grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Thomas said the program was considered among 100 other applicants for funding. Enrollment in the 18-month program is set to begin soon, with instruction to start in January 2020. Students will receive classroom instruction at EKU or KCTCS campuses, in addition to hands-on training at the four participating regional airports — at Central Kentucky Regional Airport (Richmond), London-Corbin Airport (London), Wendell H. Ford Regional Airport (Chavies), and Big Sandy Regional Airport (Debord). Officials stopped for announcements at each of the four airports Monday.
Bevin said he sees “unlimited upside potential” in the program.
“It’s hard for us to overestimate the impact of this program,” he told the crowd of regional leaders. “In the U.S. alone in the next 20 years, we will need 118,000 people with the type of AMT certified training that this program is going to offer.”
Right now, Bevin said only about 350 AMTs can be produced with current educational capacity.
“By the 2022, we literally will have more demand than ability to meet that demand,” Bevin said. “This will help us stand in that gap.”
Rogers noted that AMTs can expect to make an average salary of $61,000. Bevin pointed out that, with anticipated shortages, that number would go up to perhaps even $91,000 in the near future.
“Regional airport directors tell us that aviation mechanics are currently overbooked and are turning away airplane maintenance work, so this program will boost our workforce and allow us to keep those opportunities in Kentucky’s Appalachian region,” said Congressman Rogers. “I applaud EKU and the ARC for realizing the impact that this program can have on economic development in Eastern Kentucky and the value that these mechanics will add for safety and efficiency at our rural airports.”
More information about the Kentucky Appalachian AMT Training Project can be found online at https://www.eku.edu/flyky.