WESTFIELD – An Aviation Technology program launched at Westfield Technical Academy last school year has gained the necessary certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, school officials announced Tuesday.
The official certification, in the form of a Op SPECS (Operational Specification) is expected to be presented to the school by FAA representatives prior to the Sept. 1 start of the 2016-2917 school year, Superintendent of Schools Stefan Czaporowski said.
Certification was assured during an inspection of the course curriculum and hands on instructor use of related equipment during visits to the Smith Avenue school over the past two weeks, Instructor Galen Wilson said.
The program has 14 students returning from last school year and expects to enroll another 16 after they complete this year’s orientation program, Czapororski said.
Instruction will occupy regular classroom space at WTA and Hangar #2 at Barnes Regional Airport. The program has 10 aircraft to be used by students for training purposes. The hangar recently underwent about $1.2 million in exterior renovations and city and school officials are currently examining classroom space that will be needed at Barnes to compliment the program.
Czaporowski said he is currently considering lease or purchase of portable classrooms that can be erected adjacent to the hangar. “With 10 aircraft stored in the hangar there is little room for classrooms,” the superintendent said.
Westfield is only the third high school across the country to offer a FAA certified aviation technology program. The others are located in Florida and New York.
WTA General Advisory Committee chairman Edward Watson, who first brought the aviation proposal to the City Council for endorsement, said, referring to certification Tuesday “This is absolutely fantastic. It is a dream come to.”
Mayor Brian P. Sullivan said “This is another piece in new educational options offered to Westfield kids. It is the result of the efforts of the people involved in this certified program.”
“Awesome,” said City Advancement Officer Joseph Mitchell. “The people involved in this program are so productive,” he added.
Wilson wrote the curriculum and created the syllabus for the program and said FAA evaluation included inspection and review of the curriculum and the demonstrated use of all teaching tools and equipment by the instructor.
Czaporowski took the opportunity Tuesday to also introduce the newest aviation technology staffer in Krysten Renihan of Auburn who will serve as aviation shop assistant. She is a 2014 graduate of Westfield State University and holds a commercial pilot’s license.