Oct. 12, 2011
For the mechanics, a new tool from Embry-Riddle

As I write, it’s a clear, blue-sky summer day here in Florida. It is also a clear, blue-sky summer day in New York, as Americans, throughout our fine land remember the inhumane, horrible attack on our innocent citizens 10 years ago that killed 2,976. Perhaps, when we see other days like this, it will serve to remind us, lest we forget. We must never fail to remember the challenges we face from enemies that hide within innocent populations who wish to destroy us and our way of life.

Please excuse me for digressing from my original subject which is, in only the most general respect, similar ... challenge. Technicians today face a plethora of demands, including severe working conditions, pay not commensurate with responsibility, physical risk, undue stress, and the need to stay current in this dynamic industry where technological advance is the order of the day. Maintaining currency and updating knowledge and skills is an especially difficult task for most.

As a close friend of mine, Jim Sparks, a peer of yours, has stated ... “our career field is in need of a renaissance, as well the well-deserved recognition long overdue our ranks for being the true sentinels of airworthiness.” Here! Here!

In this light, I bring to your attention a glimmer of hope that there may be change in the future. True, this relates to the grass roots of our avocation, but isn’t that a good place to start?

Two days ago, I was invited to attend the blue ribbon-cutting ceremony for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s new Hagedorn complex. It was also, by chance, a beautiful, clear blue-sky day. In his opening remarks the president of the school, Dr. John Johnson stated, “ERAU is the finest aviation university on the planet.” That’s a bold statement with which I agree. I think many will concur.

The complex consists of three buildings ... a 15,000-square-foot flight maintenance hangar where ERAU maintains its fleet, a 38,800-square-foot operations building that includes a tower for ramp control and, last, but certainly not least, a new 48,680-square-foot aviation maintenance sciences building, the most modern nexus for primary maintenance education I have seen.

The school is chaired by Chuck Horning, a former Delta avionics program manager and an ERAU instructor for many years. There are six classrooms, (one dedicated to avionics) and seven labs. Currently the 147 program has an enrollment of 180 students. Adding those also entered into the BS degree program, the enrollment exceeds 270. The school is currently maxed out but has plans to increase enrollment in the near future. It’s good to see this investment in our industry and future aircraft technicians.

Finally, as I think about 9/11, I am reminded that U.S. aircraft technicians are typical of American stock ... hard workers, generally loyal, willing to go the extra step, and ready to accept the gauntlet of responsibility as it is thrown their way. Here! Here!