[SPOKANE, Wash.] The Spokane Community College Aviation Technology Program has prepared generations of students for the field, but it always felt the key was missing to help students reach their full potential.
That recently changed when, after 10 years of work, the program celebrated the arrival of its first working helicopter, taking the program to new heights.
SCC previously had a non-flying helicopter, but since the arrival of the working Agusta A190A helicopter in September, students have been eager to learn and utilize a new set of skills at Felt’s Field that will propel them into their careers.
The Agusta A109A has specific features that give students a unique hands-on experience that didn’t exist in the program before. For much of the program's history, students gained experience mainly with single engine, general aviation aircraft.
“We selected the Augusta A109A because it’s a twin-engine turbo craft aircraft with a retractable landing gear in it so we can use that for other areas of our program other than just helicopter training,” said aviation electronics instructor and department chair of the Aviation Maintenance Program Andy Dodson.
Having equipment to take students out of theoretical situations and placing them into the nuts and bolts of a problem, allowing them to work through to a solution is the essence of trades programs. The twin turbine engine helicopter is exposing aviation students to new complexities and opening career opportunities for them after graduation.
SCC Aviation Maintenance Technology student Aaron Henkel is looking forward to passing his exams and using his airframe and powerplant licenses to get his foot in the door with United Airlines working in the avionics department or interiors.
“There's a lot going on here, but it all serves a greater purpose,” Henkel said. “The program is great here in Spokane. You’ve got Boeing just a few hours away in Moses Lake or Seattle. Going to school here, if you want to stay in the Pacific Northwest, gives you a lot of opportunities.”
Now SCC’s Federal Aviation Administration-approved courses equip students with more complex skill sets, preparing graduates to pass their airframe and powerplant license exams and step into the career force with options to be placed in major airlines, manufacturers, repair stations, structural repair facilities and other organizations in the aviation industry.
“Introducing a helicopter into our aviation maintenance program is not just a bold move, but a strategic investment in the future of our students,” said SCC Dean of Technical Education Ashley Purdin. “As the aviation industry continues to expand, the demand for skilled maintenance professionals is reaching new heights. A real hands-on experience with a helicopter will provide our students with unparalleled insights into the complexities of aircraft maintenance, preparing them to excel in their careers from day one.”