New Sinclair aircraft maintenance hangar to teach in-demand skills
Sinclair Community College's new Aviation Maintenance Training Facility it unveiled this week deepens the region's connection to the growing industry.
"It's been a successful economic development strategy in Ohio and in the Dayton area," Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted said.
The 14,000 square foot facility is housed in a renovated hangar at the Dayton International Airport. Divided into two massive classrooms, one section has workbenches for intricate repairs, the other side has plane engines.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the next decade nearly 13,000 skilled aircraft mechanics and technicians will be needed in the aviation industry.
Without enough aviation technicians and mechanics, Bohn said the aviation industry will be severely affected.
"It basically comes to a stop because planes have to be daily inspected, daily maintenance has to be done on it," he said. "If that is not completed, then they're not allowed to fly and flying public. If they can't fly the public, then no one's going anywhere. So we keep the aviation business going."
Sean Bohn is an associate aviation technology professor.
“Students will get a wide variety of experiences from traditional hand tools, to power tools to air tools, sheet metal tools, be able to build fluid lines and fittings, and riveting. Anything that the students would see out in the world when they graduate, we have it here," Bohn said.
The basic program consists of 23 classes and extends over six semesters. Students who complete everything then take FAA exams. Upon passing these, they earn full credentials to work on all aspects of a plane's body and engine.
Erin Walling, 42, is one of about 90 students currently in Sinclair’s program. After she graduates this year, Walling and her husband hope to start a business restoring antique planes.
“There is a huge dying art of restoration of those antique aircrafts. And I want to be able to help keep them flying because they're literally pieces of art," Walling said. "I want generations to come to still be able to have access and experience them.”
She's also advocates for more women to choose this career path.
"Females (still are) not realizing that they can be a pilot or they can go be a mechanic," Walling said. "So I found a huge passion in sharing that opportunity, especially with younger girls, to be able to kind of start them on that path maybe a little few decades earlier than I started."
Mark Williams is senior vice president of strategy at Sierra Nevada Corp. This new training facility is one of the reasons his company is building two 90,000-square-foot maintenance hangars at the airport, he said.
“If you look at the state of Ohio, they're either one or three in terms of being a supplier to either Airbus, Boeing or Lockheed Martin aircraft, some of the biggest aviation companies in the world. So you have a strong industrial base that's already built here," Williams said.
It makes good business sense to have a presence in the Dayton area, he said.
"You look at the cost of labor, quality of life. You go within 100 miles — how many universities and colleges are in the area. So you're looking for a pipeline of talent," Williams said. "It's not by accident that so many businesses are coming to Ohio now.”