Aviation’s Most Advanced Training is Coming to Punta Gorda Airport
In the world of advanced manufacturing, certified FAA mechanics are viewed with the same high regard that surgeons are in the world of medicine. They’re the ones called on to address the most complex technical challenges, to ensure the flightworthiness and safety of an aircraft. Today, a new generation of FAA mechanics will “earn their wings” in Charlotte County. Thanks to the Aviation Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics Certification Course (“A&P”) through Charlotte Technical College, graduates can take the written, oral and practical exams required to earn an FAA mechanic license with airframe and powerplant ratings.
Locally, that will help build an on-going pool of highly skilled workers. The timing is right. Aviation and manufacturing are key target industries for Charlotte County. There’s a growing cluster of aviation companies here ranging from aircraft construction to component manufacturing and medical charters. Within a 50-mile radius, nearly 150 firms are engaged in aviation and aerospace manufacturing and transportation. In fact, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, more than one million new aviation jobs will need to be filled by 2032. The aviation industry is booming. The jobs will be there – and Charlotte County will be ready.
The A&P certification program was created with a major Jobs Growth Grant Fund from the state of Florida, plus matching funds and contributions from area organizations. The curriculum will focus on aircraft structures, power plants, avionics, system design, testing and inspection. All students will receive hands-on experience with a variety of aircraft. The course is challenging, with more than 2,000 hours of instruction required through Charlotte Technical College.
Many of us were disappointed when Western Michigan University decided to end pilot training in Charlotte County due to budget considerations, management changes and refocused direction. But in economic development, every venture can’t be successful. What’s important is that we have a community willing to explore new horizons. Charlotte County EDO is already talking to other pilot training programs intrigued by our warm weather climate and favorable business conditions. The FAA mechanic program plus our portfolio of aviation companies in a rapidly growing industry are proof that Charlotte County is flying in the right direction.