Aviation employment services company HQ Aero Management (US) recently entered into a partnership with Workforce West Virginia and local aviation companies to create an eight-week Aircraft Structures Training Program at Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont, W.V.
Offered at no cost to students, the certificate program provides entry-level training in fundamental aircraft structures fabrication and repair concepts including assembly tools, blueprint reading, fastener pattern layouts, solid rivet installation and fastener installation. According to Ronald Eagle, v.p. of U.S. operations at HQ Aero (Booth No. C2113), all students who complete the program are guaranteed positions as aviation apprentices through either HQ Aero or one of the program’s other partner aviation companies.
“A lot of highly-skilled structures technicians are reaching retirement age and there were no programs to build replacements,” said Eagle. “When an industry loses a skill set, it loses some core competence. This course develops apprentice-level technicians to start replacing those skills that industry will soon be missing.”
According to Eagle, candidates for the Aircraft Structures Training Program must pass criminal background checks, drug tests and a skills assessment test to ensure the candidate is mechanically inclined. A state grant pays for the instructor and most of the equipment; funds from Workforce West Virginia allow students to attend the program for free.
HQ Aero offers nationwide recruitment services to the aviation industry, providing contract and direct placement of aviation technicians. Employing between 150 and 200 contract aviation technicians at any given time, HQ Aero became involved in the program first to provide guidance in terms of the skills requested by HQ Aero clients when looking for skilled aircraft structures technicians and then as an employer for those workers. Originally slated for 12 students per eight-week session, the first class of 14 students included three students sponsored by another aerospace company that will hire them into the engine maintenance field. Upon graduation from the program, the remaining 11 students will be hired as aircraft structures apprentices by HQ Aero or its clients.
“The basic key behind the success of the program is to highlight the opportunities available in aviation,” said Eagle, noting that several key entities, such as Workforce West Virginia and the Mid Atlantic Aerospace Complex, are working hard to develop the aerospace industry in the state. “We’re confident that up to 24 students per year can easily be employed within West Virginia,” Eagle said. Another Aircraft Structures Training Program class is scheduled at Pierpont for April/May 2013.