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Local aviation training to start in April

September 27, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN --Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics said Monday that it plans to start an aviation instruction program at Hagerstown Regional Airport next spring.

The school will start with one class of 25 students, said James Mader, the institute's director.

Carolyn Motz, the airport's manager, said a program that trains people for aviation jobs is "critically needed."

Several aviation companies operate at or around the airport. Some of the bigger companies are Sierra Nevada Corp. and AgustaWestland.

Local officials have talked for months about the possibility of an aircraft technician program in Washington County.

In December 2009, representatives from five leading aeronautical education institutions looked at the airport and government contractor businesses around it, The Herald-Mail reported at the time.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, National Aviation Academy, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore participated in the tour.

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At the time, Greg Larsen, the airport's business development manager, said National Aviation Academy, Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, and Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics were interested in establishing an aircraft maintenance technician program in Washington County.

Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics currently has campuses in West Mifflin, Pa., and Vienna, Ohio.

The school is scheduled to start classes at Top Flight Airpark, near Hagerstown Regional Airport, on April 29, 2011.

Mader said his school hopes to expand from one class to four, for a maximum of 100 students.

They'll learn to work with sheet metal, small engines, jet engines, electronics and more, he said.

At the end of a 16-month program, they can get a Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant certificate.

Mader said those who earn certificates "can work on any aircraft and perform any task."

The pay can run from $15 an hour to work with low-end aircraft to about $40 an hour for an experienced technician with an airline, Mader said.

He said the average age for current airframe and powerplant technicians is close to 60 years old.

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