Alabama’s First Unmanned Aircraft Systems Maintenance Program to Locate in Ozark
OZARK, Ala. (January 29, 2013) – The Alabama Aviation Center, a unit of Enterprise State Community College (ESCC), will create the state’s first unmanned aircraft systems maintenance program to serve a growing aviation business sector, according to Nancy W. Chandler, Ed.D., ESCC president.
The Governor’s Office of Workforce Development recently awarded a $360,000 grant to ESCC to develop and launch the first phase of the program. The new program, tentatively scheduled to begin in January 2014, will enable ESCC to turn out certified technicians qualified in both manned and unmanned systems.
“The new unmanned aircraft maintenance certification, along with our existing avionics and manned aviation maintenance technology programs and strong relationships in the aviation industry, positions ESCC as the premier institution for comprehensive aviation maintenance training in Alabama,” Chandler said.
“With its proximity to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker and the many aviation businesses in our region, ESCC’s ability to provide comprehensive aircraft maintenance training will boost our ability to recruit and retain employers seeking such expertise for their employees,” said Eric Basinger, executive director of the Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corp. (ODEC).
The college’s application for the state grant was supported by ODEC and private-sector companies that are interested in expanding their unmanned aircraft capabilities.
“The challenge of converting a manned helicopter into an unmanned-only aerial vehicle requires skills that are not taught in traditional aviation mechanic training programs. The Alabama Aviation Center’s creation of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Maintenance Program will provide immediate and lasting benefits to its students, the local economy and industry alike,” said Barry Ford, general manager of Bell Helicopter-Ozark.
Aviation is one of the fastest growing industries in south Alabama. Despite the economic downturn, the unmanned sector of the aviation and aerospace industry has continued to grow as a way to increase efficiency, save money and enhance safety. In 2010, the U.S. Air Force trained more unmanned aircraft pilots than manned fighter and bomber pilots, and the Pentagon purchased more unmanned aircraft than manned aircraft, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
The association projects that 23,000 unmanned aircraft systems jobs will be created in the United States over the next 15 years. Many of these jobs will be in manufacturing, with a ripple effect among supplier companies responding to increasing demand for unmanned systems.
About the Alabama Aviation Center, a unit of Enterprise State Community College
The Alabama Aviation Center is the only Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved provider of aviation maintenance training in Alabama. The AAC has maintained a proven reputation and an established tradition of providing excellence in aviation maintenance technology airframe and powerplant for over 50 years. AAC also offers Avionics for those interested in the electronics side of the field. All aviation programs offered by the college reflect current industry standards to ensure students are prepared for careers in the high growth aviation industry. Locations include Ozark, Mobile, Andalusia, Albertville and Decatur.
ESCC was named as a Top 120 Community College in the nation by the ASPEN Institute in both 2011 and 2012. ESCC offers classes in Enterprise, Ft. Rucker and online, as well as seven AAC sites across the state. For more information, visit escc.edu, follow us on Twitter (@enterprisestate), or find us on Facebook.
About the Ozark-Dale County EDC