Aircraft Experts Say Training Worth The Investment

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some are asking the question: Why should the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) be asking for a doubling of state money at a time of such budgetary constraints?

"Our students actually take the wings off, take the landing gear off, take it down and then put it back together."

Members of the Wichita Aero Club toured NCAT to see where aircraft students are trained. Many of the students are on layoff from local plants. And though thousands are jobless now, some of the heads of local aircraft companies worry about not having an adequate and qualified workforce in the not so distant future.

They're hoping NCAT and WSU's National Institute for Aviation Research will have the funding necessary to train or retrain aircraft workers.

"We can't lose another industry in our country," National Center for Aviation Training President Dr. Tony Kinkel said.

Tony Kinkel is the new president of NCAT. He's concerned about the U.S. losing aviation manufacturing like it lost other industries. He says a doubling of state funding from 5 to 10 million will help NCAT to better train people.

"....We're looking at moving into robotics and industrial mechanical systems," Kinkel said.

Dr. John Tomblin, Executive Director of the WSU National Institute for Aviation said, "People say we've lost 15 to 20 thousand jobs here in Wichita. Why do we need to invest now?

Tomblin says when buyers return to the aircraft market they'll want to purchase planes with the latest technologies, just like people do when they're buying a new car. He says that's one more reason to invest in the local schools which educate aviation's workforce.

"Now, it is absolutely critical. If you see the global competition that's out there and the changing market," Tomblin added.

The educators say whatever money they wind up with from the state, they promise it will be spent wisely.


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