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Wichita: Air Capital of the World National Center for Aviation Training opens For nearly a century now, the practice of preparing Wichita’s constituents for work in the aviation industry is tied firmly to its historic, enterprising roots...


Wichita: Air Capital of the World

National Center for Aviation Training opens

For nearly a century now, the practice of preparing Wichita’s constituents for work in the aviation industry is tied firmly to its historic, enterprising roots. In 1917, Wichita was established as the “Air Capital of the World” when the Cessna Comet was introduced, and continues to remain the leading supplier of aviation aircraft with more than 50 percent of the market.

In terms of population percentage, more people work in the aviation and aerospace industries in Wichita than in any city in the world. Bombardier Aerospace, Cessna Aircraft Company, Hawker Beechcraft, Spirit Aerosystems, and The Boeing Company create a huge presence in the Wichita area. Through the vision of these five companies and Sedgwick County leaders, the National Center for Aviation Training Center (NCAT) has become a reality in order for Kansas’ aviation industry to remain globally competitive and to provide training programs to meet work force demands.

World-class training

NCAT is a world-class training facility that provides the opportunity for prospective students to receive hands-on, real-world training in the areas of general aviation manufacturing and aircraft and power plant mechanics. Wichita’s two-year post-secondary college, Wichita Area Technical College (WATC), serves as the managing partner for the center and provides technical certificates and degree programs for aviation/manufacturing training whose program curriculum is approved by business and industry and the Kansas Board of Regents.

The center, on WATC’s main campus, consists of three buildings: Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (80,948 square feet), the Aviation Service Center (96,243 square feet) complete with an auditorium that will hold 200 people, and an Assessment and Administration Center (30,435 square feet) for admissions, student services, and employment placement.

Training programs include: Part 147 Airframe and Powerplant, avionics, robotics, composite fabrication/repair, nondestructive testing, welding/machining/CAD/CATIA, aerostructures, interiors installation, advanced coatings and painting, torque certification, electromechanical systems,and fiberoptics.

Aviation research

Not only is Wichita a national aviation manufacturing hub, it is also recognized for aviation research; 70 percent of all FAA composites research is conducted at Wichita State University’s National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR). NIAR supports research in the areas of composites and advanced materials, full-scale structural testing, aging aircraft, crash dynamics, CAD/CAM, advanced joining, and aerodynamics. NIAR has partnered with the industry since 1985 to provide research, design, testing, and certification to the aviation manufacturing industry, government agencies, and educational entities.

NIAR, in partnership with WATC, also has research labs and faculty at NCAT. Training programs at NCAT provide students an opportunity for work force training. Students are provided a rich learning environment where the latest research is put into practical application.

As the No. 1 net export in the United States, Kansas’ aviation manufacturing is a significant contributor and thus the driver for the Wichita area to become a global economic nucleus for aviation training.

NCAT has the capacity to provide technical training for at least 1,500 students with both day and night classes. The center became operational in August 2010. NCAT facilities and WATC training programs will allow realistic hands-on training on the latest equipment in aviation and advanced manufacturing, including a composites materials lab. AMT

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