Airframe Technology Students Gain Real-World Experience

Oct. 24, 2023

Three Texas State Technical College Aircraft Airframe Technology students: Fabien Granja, Hafez Omar and Mark Sanchez are gaining real-world experience working full time at area aviation companies while studying at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.

Granja and Omar were hired as line technicians at Sun Valley Aviation Inc. in Harlingen, and Sanchez was hired as a line technician at Southmost Aviation in Brownsville.

Granja and Omar are studying for certificates of completion in Aircraft Line Technician, while Sanchez is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Aircraft Airframe Technology.

“For our job (at Sun Valley Aviation), we marshal in an airplane after it has landed on the runway, refuel an aircraft, hangar the airplane and perform maintenance duties,” Granja said.

Pat Kornegay, CEO for Sun Valley Aviation, said Granja and Omar are getting good experience while working for the company.

“There is a lot of online and on-the-job training for the line technician jobs that Fabien and Hafez have with our company,” he said. “It relates to all types of private and commercial aircraft for Federal Express, American Airlines and DHL.”

Ben Douglas, general manager for Southmost Aviation, said Sanchez is a fast learner.

“Mark is eager to learn; he’s a go-getter and asks many questions to gain a better understanding of the work we do,” he said.

The students agreed that what they are learning at TSTC is benefiting them in their jobs.

“The theory side that I’m learning in Aircraft Airframe Technology has helped me align what I need to know in the maintenance hangar,” Granja said.

“My instructors have taught me to take accountability and follow instructions,” Omar said.

“Attention to detail is crucial because this education is preparing me to be a top-notch mechanic,” Sanchez said.

Each student has completed TSTC’s Aircraft Powerplant Technology core courses. They will test for the FAA aircraft powerplant certificate in Houston in December.

Ramiro Chavez, a TSTC Aviation Maintenance instructor in Harlingen, said the students are gaining valuable experience in their jobs.

“The students are sharing the knowledge and skills they have gained with their fellow classmates, and it will lead to their success after they graduate,” he said.

According to, aircraft mechanics and service technicians in Texas earn an average of $67,680 a year. The website projected that there would be a 16% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at its Abilene, Harlingen and Waco campuses.