Looking to the future and eyeing opportunities to expand the local workforce, Middletown officials are considering a partnership to prepare people for careers in the aviation industry.
Middletown City Council expressed an interest in partnering with Cincinnati State and other organizations to develop an electronics lab to train people to become FAA certified avionics or aircraft electronics technicians that could begin as early as this summer.
City Manager Doug Adkins told council that Cincinnati State would like to develop an aviation maintenance programs with designs to eventually become a fully certified program to supply workers for FAA certified maintenance positions. Adkins said this would be modeled after the program Cincinnati State operates at its in Harrison campus and the adjacent Cincinnati State West Airport, which the college owns.
The city is being asked to donate about $30,000 toward the total costs of nearly $150,000 to develop an avionics laboratory at the college’s Middletown campus that would expand its electronics lab to include this program, Adkins said. He said additional details would come as discussions continue with Cincinnati State on the proposed partnership.
He said the proposed program envisions starting a drone flight training program this fall and a drone repair program in spring 2019.
Avionics are the electronic components of various instruments within an aircraft and the demand for technicians to maintain and repair that equipment is expected to increase in the future. He said there will be an increased demand for electronic maintenance technicians as more drones are becoming more commonplace. Adkins also said there is already a push as Magellan Aerospace is planning an expansion that will require up to 40 additional workers by 2012-2022.
He said participants in the avionics certification program can use this as a first step toward obtaining other certifications such as power plant, airframe, and unmanned aerial vehicle instrument/control testing.
Adkins said the proposed avionics program will be offered in two variations during the initial rollout, as a semester-long course for regular students and as a one-week professional course being offered to those already in the field but needed to augment their education.
In addition, he said that Safeskies, the maintenance company that operates at Middletown Regional Airport, is also considering sending its technicians through the program. He said the company does not repair electronic instruments on-site.
Adkins also said that Cincinnati State and the city would also be seeking additional partnerships to assist with this investment. He said the city has held discussions with the Middletown City School District and Butler Tech about becoming possible education sponsors in the project.
He said this type of partnership, between education and sponsor, is exactly what the state leadership wanted to see in order for them to “feel comfortable” in reviewing the $750,000 capital budget, Adkins said.
Middletown officials see this as a way to build infrastructure for workforce development while marketing the airport property to prospective companies in the aviation industry. City officials and some local business people look to Middletown Regional Airport as a place to develop for aircraft maintenance and repair as the city has a large section of land on the west side of the airport to develop.