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Pazar, 26 Mayıs 2024

Help wanted: Illinois aviation mechanics fear shortage of young talent


An aviation maintenance program at a community college in Springfield that got a big corporate donation to grow its operations hopes to draw attention to the need for young mechanics.
Lincoln Land Community College Aviation Program Director Dave Pietrcak said they’re ready to show off an expanded facility thanks to last year’s $850,000 donation from Springfield-based Levi, Ray & Shoup. An open house is planned for Oct. 25 in Springfield.
“We have three new classrooms and a complete computer lab with 25 new computers set up,” Pietrcak said. “We have the latest audio and visual equipment all installed.”


Before the expanded facility was completed, Pietrcak said classes were held in mobile trailers.
In a statement last year following his donation to LLCC, Levi, Ray & Shoup President and CEO Dick Levi said, “Careers in aviation and related fields can be very exciting, enjoyable and rewarding. It is my hope that this project will provide quality career opportunities that will benefit our community for years to come.”


Pietrcak said their graduates go on to work all over the state,

from St. Louis to Chicago and everywhere in between, but there’s an alarming shortage of fresh blood in aviation mechanics.

“This has been going this way for a few years now,” Pietrcak said. “Very few people are picking up this trade. There’s a lot more that are getting up in age and retiring.”
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Pietrcak said the average age of an aviation mechanic is over 50 years old.
An aviation mechanic out of Champaign is scared of the looming shortage.
Flightstar Service Manager John Arnett said he’s concerned there won’t be enough young people getting into aviation mechanics to fill vacancies from some looming retirements.
“I’m worried,” Arnett, who’s been at Flightstar for 19 years, said. “I’m a little worried because we’re going to find ourselves in a dilemma.”
Aviation mechanic qualifications are very rigorous, Arnett said, because you can’t just pull a plane over on the side of the road if there’s mechanical problem.
Pietrcak said LLCC’s program takes 18 months. Others may take up to 2 years. In total there are 1,900 hours of actual study, shop and classroom activities. At the end, Pietrcak said there are oral, written and practical exams.
Arnett notes that could be one reason younger people go to other mechanic fields.
Either way, Arnett said aviation is important to Illinois businesses.
“A lot of people don’t think so,” Arnett said. “They think that it’s a high expense, they’re flying around in these fancy jets. Well, it’s making the business grow and that’s really important.”
Depending on location Arnett said aviation mechanics can make up to $40 an hour.

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