RICHMOND, Ky. — The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) through its POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative has announced an investment of $1,463,927 in Eastern Kentucky University’s “Kentucky’s Appalachia Aviation Maintenance Technician Training” project.
The 18-month program, slated to begin training students in January 2020, will be partially taught in traditional classrooms on the partnering college campuses: Hazard Community & Technical College; Big Sandy Community and Technical College; EKU Manchester; EKU Corbin; and EKU Richmond. Upper-level training classes will take place at partnering regional airports: Wendell H. Ford Regional Airport, Hazard; Big Sandy Regional Airport; London-Corbin Airport; and Central Kentucky Regional Airport, Richmond.
EKU Regent Nancy Collins, a Hazard attorney, is excited about the prospect of Eastern’s AMT program bringing new economic development opportunities to Perry County and the rest of the region.
“EKU’s aviation mechanics program will make a huge impact on our region,” Collins said. “This project, along with other economic development efforts, brings us forward and readies us for 21st Century industry.”
Each college and university program location was strategically chosen for its proximity to a partnering regional airport. Once trainees fulfill basic coursework requirements inside the traditional classroom setting, the training will move to the regional airports for hands-on work training.
The initiative meets criteria outlined in EKU’s five-year strategic plan, enacted by EKU President Dr. Michael T. Benson and the EKU Board of Regents. One of the plan’s six goals is to increase collaboration with EKU’s service region and community stakeholders to identify and address both educational and economic issues.
“Through the establishment of these four AMT training programs in eastern Kentucky, the University further demonstrates its commitment to the region and our mission to improve the quality of life for the communities we serve,” Benson said. “The demand for highly skilled aviation mechanics is growing and we are honored that our University has been chosen by the Appalachian Regional Commission to prepare this workforce.”
Eastern is currently working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to build an approved curriculum and will hire a project manager after July. The program is intended to be inclusive of both Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) and Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) trainings. Identifying a growing employment sector, the project responds to the need for economic diversification, job creation and workforce development within Kentucky’s Appalachian counties.
Dr. David McFaddin, EKU’s senior vice president of operations and strategic initiatives, put the team together that built the integral partnerships with Kentucky’s community colleges and regional airports, working in both the private and public sectors. Working toward the goal of creating four FAA certified AMT schools, EKU’s Regional Stewardship arm was able to secure the needed ARC POWER funding to make the project possible.
“The training of FAA approved Aviation Maintenance Technicians is a logical fit for the University and all of our project partners,” McFaddin said. “As EKU continuously engages with its service region to find ways to diversify the economy in Kentucky’s Appalachia, we felt certain the AMT project would make a big impact toward that effort.”
Eastern’s Office of Regional Stewardship is currently collaborating with Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) to add the aviation maintenance certification program to its list of paid trainings for those displaced by the downturn in the coal mining industry and others who qualify under the program. If approved, individuals who meet need-based criteria will receive paid or partially paid tuition for their program training.