Aviation, aircraft, and engines have come a long way since the Wright brothers first worked on their flying machine. So has the way technicians learn to maintain airplanes. For example, Pratt & Whitney’s customer training program has expanded its mission and capabilities dramatically since 1935 when the first class of mechanics learned how to maintain its Wasp engines.
Today, more than 4,000 customers and others are trained annually on engine operations and maintenance practices through its Customer Training Center and satellite/franchise operations. To learn more about it, AMT talked with Laura Holmes, general manager of the Pratt & Whitney Customer Training Center (P&W CTC), East Hartford, CT. She suggests anonymous student comments from past training session evaluations provide a good indication about what to look for in classes that help you do your job and planes fly more safely.
“(The instructor) was great. I was very impressed with his overall aviation knowledge. He kept the class very interesting,” one student wrote on his form this past February following a class at the P&W CTC.
Other attendees appreciated having an instructor who was easy to talk with, professional, courteous, had a good training style, and was very knowledgeable on the subject. “Our teacher was able to tailor the material to our level of experience,” wrote another student, a training factor obviously important to him.
Clear answers to all questions and detailed information so students could grasp even complex subject matter were noted often. This translates into ideas you can take back to the job, and led to one comment: “This training will help cut down on setup time.”
Holmes explains that good training, like that available from the P&W CTC, is dedicated to delivering a focused learning experience to students from around the world. “Our curriculum blends classroom instruction with computer-based technologies and hands-on engine practice. Comprehensive and effective training solutions can be provided at one of our state-of-the-art training centers, at a satellite network location, or on-site at a customer facility.”
As part of its global strategy, the China Customer Training Center was opened in 2002 in Beijing to provide training to customers in the region. Training satellites have also been established within its engine center network to support both employee and customer learning requirements on various engine models. The locations include Stavanger, Norway; Christchurch, New Zealand; Columbus, GA; and North Berwick, ME.
The company employs eight full-time commercial instructors and five full-time military instructors, plus many part-time instructors within its global satellite network. Their backgrounds are both in engineering and technical skills, typically combined with 10 to 30 years of hands-on experience.
“Customer Training has a world-class professional instructor team, and rigorous standards for qualifying and continuously developing their knowledge, expertise, and skills,” Holmes says. “In addition, the P&W curriculum development team members have strong backgrounds in adult learning principles to ensure that content is designed to maximize knowledge retention and human performance improvement when they return to the job.”
Courses vary anywhere from two days to six months in length, depending on the subject or program.
A wide choice in subjects and instructional methods
At the best training facilities, students have choices. For example, at P&W CTC, you can select instructor-led commercial and military engine maintenance training, engineering and engine performance courses, general courses, and executive education initiatives. “Online courses are also available as an additional resource to support training needs in a self-paced format,” Holmes points out, ”and these include new courses such as Jet Engine Introduction and Human Factors Awareness.”
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