It’s been a hot topic for a couple of years and now it appears an airplane mechanics class for the Punta Gorda Airport and Charlotte Technical College is near reality.
The idea first grew out of a partnership between Western Michigan University and the airport. The deal fizzled when WMU pulled the plug. But the idea of a mechanics class in Charlotte County was planted deep and local educators and airplane enthusiasts would not let it die.
Charlotte Technical College recently learned it has preliminary approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for an airplane mechanics class to start up at the airport, CTC Director Deelyn Bennett told The Daily Sun.
Bennett said FAA inspectors were impressed with the local facility and the $1 million CTC has invested in equipment — mostly using a state grant. A Fort Myers-based airplane mechanic company, Intrepid Aerospace, has made a number of donations, including of equipment, Bennett said.
When the equipment is completely set up, FAA will return for a final inspection and, if all is good, the program will likely start up this fall. Two instructors are already lined up for classes.
The program is for 18 months and can handle 100 students initially — made up of high school students and older students who want to get their foot in the door for a skill that is in high demand. Florida could have 14,000 job openings for airplane mechanics annually through 2028, according to Careersource of Southwest Florida.
Tuition for the 18 months is $5,974. Students who begin in their senior year of high school save about $1,500 in tuition, because they are still enrolled in publicly funded schooling.
This is all great news for CTC and the airport. Kudos to those who saw this program through.