COLONIE — Hudson Valley Community College will begin teaching a class in aviation maintenance in a hangar at the Albany International Airport starting this fall.
The newly created Aeronautical Technology Institute and Aviation Maintenance Technician School will be certified by the Federal Aviation administration to offer degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit and short term workforce training programs, to future and existing aircraft mechanics.
A 2019-20 Aviation Technician Education Council Pipeline Report found that 33 percent of airframe and power plant technicians in the country are at or nearing retirement age. The report also indicates that the industry will need to produce another 2,700 mechanics over the 2019 output each year to meet U.S. market demand over the next two decades. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the overall employment of aviation equipment mechanics and technicians is projected to grow 5 percent annually from 2019 to 2029.
In the Capital District, aviation mechanics and service technicians earn a median salary of $55,000. The state Department of Labor projects a 15.4 percent increase in demand for aviation mechanics and service technicians through 2026. In addition, a survey of regional airlines flying out of Albany International Airport indicates that each airline expects an average projected need of up to 10 more aviation mechanics per year over the next five years.
“When I first arrived at Hudson Valley, we met with the leadership of the Albany International Airport and heard their concerns about the need for aviation mechanic training,” said HVCC President Roger Ramsammy. “We are so pleased to announce this partnership today, which will not only serve the needs of our airport and the airlines it serves but also create well-paying careers that will ultimately benefit the communities of the Capital Region.”
Programs and courses will be conducted in more than 12,000-square-foot of lab and shop space in Hangar 1 at the airport when renovations are completed later this year. It comes as the Champlain Valley Educational Services Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Plattsburgh decided to discontinue its Aviation Maintenance Technician School. Hudson Valley Community College took the opportunity to purchase the majority of that program’s equipment and curricula.
The college secured funds to purchase the CVES program for $1.5 million and partnered with the airport to conceive and house the Aeronautical Technology Institute. The funding came from a 2020-21 Perkins Grant, a $500,000 loan from its Faculty Student Association and a $500,000 gift from the HVCC Foundation.
Last fall, the college began the transportation of equipment from CVES to the Albany International Airport. The CVES curriculum is now being refined to meet FAA regulations as classrooms and labs undergo renovations in Hangar 1. Certification is expected no later than the fall of 2022.
As many as 40 students are expected to enroll in new aviation programs, and up to 15 incoming students will be awarded scholarships of as much as $10,000 from the HVCC Foundation. These scholarships will help recruit students who reside in economic opportunity zones or are traditionally underrepresented in STEM, as well as military veterans and under-employed or unemployed individuals.
“This comprehensive aviation program will act as an incentive for new and emerging airlines to serve Albany International Airport and attract additional aircraft maintenance facilities along with their well-paying jobs,” said Philip Calderone, CEO of the Albany County Airport Authority. “Along with HVCC and Albany County, we are committed to ensuring that these new job opportunities particularly benefit low income and minority students. This is a critical initiative as we move into a post pandemic world.”
The college’s Applied Technologies Department, which will oversee the new program, also offers degrees and certificates in host of other tech fields. Students have a job placement rate of more than 90 percent prior to graduation.