Cessna Skyhawk Approved for NMC Training Fleet

April 26, 2022
The Aviation Division of Northwestern Michigan College will add a Cessna Skyhawk to its training fleet, the first step in a plan to grow the program by 25 percent over the next several years.

Apr. 26—TRAVERSE CITY — The Aviation Division of Northwestern Michigan College will add a Cessna Skyhawk to its training fleet, the first step in a plan to grow the program by 25 percent over the next several years.

The NMC Board of Trustees approved the purchase at its regular meeting Monday. A used aircraft will be sought, with the purchase not to exceed $425,000. The money will come from the Aviation Capital Equipment Fund, which has a balance of about $850,000.

The purchase by the Aviation Division is in response to a global shortage of pilots and aircraft mechanics because of retirements, regulatory changes and the increase in international travel, according to information from Alex Bloye, NMC's director of aviation.

The shortage has spurred a rise in pilot salaries, which has made the profession more attractive and spurred a demand for aviation programs. There is also a severe shortage in the global fleet of training aircraft, Bloye said.

Bloye said NMC's program has a very large incoming class in the fall and has a waitlist that extends into 2024. Every aircraft in the fleet represents seven to 10 students, he said.

"We want to support those students," Bloye said.

Increasing the capacity of the program will also bring in more revenue for the college.

The college also will spend $516,280 to install a permanent dewatering system for the Timothy J. Nelson Innovation Center. The work will be done by Elmer's Crane and Dozer.

Robert Verschaever is project manager with Gosling Czubak Engineering, which worked with Cornerstone Architects on the project. As part of due diligence, soil borings were done and water levels monitored, he said.

The borings were done in 2017-18, with the building taking about two years after that to complete, Verschaever said. During that time the water table rose by 6 feet, he said.

"There were lots of significant rain events and water levels were up everywhere," Verschaever said. "The high-rising groundwater was problematic."

The $14.4 million Innovation Center opened in July 2020, but an access floor under the lower level of the building flooded several times that year because of the high water. The access floor contains technology and electrical components. The flooding also caused the building to be closed and disrupted students.

While the water table has gone down in the Great Lakes region, the dewatering system will automatically turn on when water-monitoring piezometers detect rising levels, with groundwater being diverted to a discharge area away from the building.

"It's a layer of insurance on the building so if it comes up again it will pump down the water levels and prevent leaks," Verschaever said.

About one year ago the board authorized NMC to spend up to $308,000 on the dewatering system, but it was never installed. The center, the former West Hall, was renovated and expanded using a mix of state capital outlay dollars and the sale of bonds.

At the time NMC officials said the system was an allowable expe- nse for the project using state funding, though there was a mid-July deadline to complete the work, as previously reported.


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