Aviation Repair School Really Gets off the Ground at Albany Airport

June 21, 2024
Hudson Valley Community College is starting the 12-month certification program this fall, in a hangar at the airport that has been dubbed HVCC West. Its official name is the Aeronautical Technology Institute.

Jun. 20—COLONIE — There's nothing cooler than repairing helicopters, said Torre Tamez.

What's also cool: She'll be able to get her aviation mechanic certification near home, at the Albany International Airport.

Hudson Valley Community College is starting the 12-month certification program this fall, in a hangar at the airport that has been dubbed HVCC West. Its official name is the Aeronautical Technology Institute.

The institute is in the final stages of receiving Federal Aviation Administration certification as an Aviation Maintenance Technician School.

It was perfect timing for Tamez, 19, of Austerlitz.

Two years ago, she enlisted in the Army National Guard as a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic. But that's a part-time job. So she enrolled at HVCC to get the certification she'll need for a civilian job repairing helicopters.

"I just thought it would be awesome doing it full-time because I loved doing it part-time," she said.

At first, she thought she would have to relocate to take the 12-month course, which is offered at very few schools in New York. Then HVCC announced open houses for its new program.

"I was very excited to have something closer to home," she said.

Repairing aircraft isn't for everyone. It's a high-stress job, but she has loved it in the National Guard.

"If you aren't really sure about what the task is, you always have to ask, especially with this career and having lives at risk," she said. "You definitely want to make sure you know what you're doing and you're doing it right."

Mechanics use the manual every time, she said.

"This career you can't have a big ego in," she said. "Let's say you're changing your main landing gear tire. If you say. 'I've done this a million times. I don't need to look at the manual,' that's when you start missing things."

Aviation mechanics and service technicians earn a median salary of $70,000 in the Capital Region, according to HVCC.

A survey of regional airlines that fly out of Albany International Airport indicated that each airline expects to need an average of 10 more aviation mechanics per year over the next five years, according to HVCC.

The program has been a long time coming. In 2021, airport CEO Phil Calderone heard that Champlain Valley Education Services in Plattsburgh discontinued its Aviation Maintenance Technician School. Calderone reached out to HVCC, which acquired the training equipment from Plattsburgh for $1.5 million, financed through a federal Perkins Grant, a $500,000 loan from HVCC's Faculty Student Association, and a $500,000 gift from the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation.

While the college was able to begin classes on related topics, it took years to get FAA approval for a new Aviation Maintenance Technician School.


(c)2024 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)

Visit the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) at www.timesunion.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.