JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Just three years after launching an aviation school to help address the national pilot shortage, St. Francis University and Nulton Aviation are vying for a center to train mechanics to work on the industry aircraft.
The company and the university want to use a 100,000-square-foot hangar and adjoining offices at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport where students could enroll in a 16-month program to earn aviation technician licenses. aircraft maintenance.
The Airframe and Powerplant license certifies that a mechanic works on nearly every aspect of an aircraft, including the engine, landing gear, brakes and air conditioning system, executives said.
It also has a job growth projection of 11% above the national average, according to the most recent Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
St. Francis University communications manager Marie Young said the median age of field workers is 51, nine years older than the national workforce average.
Designed as a shorter program compared to its traditional university counterparts, enrolling students would be able to fast-track into an industry “desperate for quality workers” – not just in the fields of aviation, but also heavy equipment and automotive, Young said.
The Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority’s vote this week gave the private college and Nulton approval to seek federal funding to start the project, airport manager Cory Cree said.
A deadline for applications loomed at the end of the month, he noted.
If the plan goes ahead, board members said the program could serve as a partnership with the airport’s next passenger carrier, allowing students to learn the trade to that company’s specifications.
This could give local graduates a prime track to start their career with a local carrier.
Airport officials are moving forward with a plan that would add a car wash to airport property.
The move follows a promise made by airport officials to hire an on-site car rental company at Johnstown Airport.
Hertz moved into vacant office space in February under a $500-a-month lease.
The car wash — a “no-frills” prefab steel garage with water and electric heat — would be leased to Hertz, or future rental companies, under a separate deal, Cree said.
Doing so would allow rental services to keep their vehicles clean and ready on site for customers.
In order for this to happen, the authority applied for a zoning waiver to allow the authority to place the building 10 feet from the edge of the nearest freeway right-of-way.
A meeting is scheduled for May, authority officials said.
Several other projects are also moving towards development.
Authority officials are seeking FAA approvals to build a two-unit hangar on the property.
Cree said the hangars would be set up to accommodate business jets or to support aircraft maintenance.
If all goes well, tenders could be launched this summer for the project.
Authority members also asked their engineer Kimball if a planned seven-unit hangar could see construction in 2022.
“Right now our hangars are full,” authority member Jim Loncella said. “There is a waiting list right now.
“And as we work to develop our Keystone Opportunity Zone…there will be demand for more space,” he said. “So we want to be ready to move on.”
Talks with the carrier
With SkyWest no longer planning to serve Essential Air Service airports by the end of the summer, efforts continue to find a replacement — with the May 11 federal deadline for applications approaching.
Cree said he expects at least two airlines to apply, based on recent conversations.
The move comes as the airport continues to see its highest number of flights in 15 years.
SkyWest’s latest monthly report showed 1,678 passengers flew to or from the airport in March, including 832 departures or “boardings”.
For comparison, the airport has 182 boardings in March 2021 and 305 in 2020.
Over the past 12 consecutive months, SkyWest has transported 20,008 people to or from Johnstown, including 10,027 boardings.
The airport last met this target in 2006, according to historical figures.