Sept. 13, 2016

The Connecticut Aero Tech School for Aviation Maintenance Technicians, a two-year, post-high school program that offers airframe and powerplant (A&P) certificate training, had been slated for closure by the state, but was able to open this fall thanks in part to industry advocates who recognized the need to maintain programs that train skilled technicians.

With little notice, state education officials announced this summer that the school would not open for the incoming fall class. Pam Sawyer, a retired Connecticut legislator whose husband is a helicopter pilot, has supported the school for almost 20 years. As a strong advocate for CT Aero Tech, she encouraged others, including NBAA and the Connecticut Business Aviation Association, to get involved in a grassroots effort to keep the school open by making calls, emailing and writing letters to state officials, newspaper editors and Connecticut-based aviation businesses and flight departments.

She also worked with the governor’s office, and encouraged the Connecticut Legislature’s aviation caucus to intervene on behalf of the school.

“This superb school and the industry needs the opposite of a closure,” said Sawyer. “We shouldn’t shut down a class, we really should be doubling it. There are many high-paying jobs here just waiting for these qualified and skilled graduates. Some students have had jobs lined up before graduation.”

While the school graduates around 30 newly-minted A&Ps per year, the demand for qualified A&P technicians is higher. Sawyer has advocated for the school to add evening classes and specialized avionics courses to its curriculum.

“To close down a school like this one would be foolhardy,” said Dean Saucier, NBAA’s Northeast regional representative. “This is a school that has placed all its graduates in well-paying positions. With the aviation industry experiencing a shortage of qualified technicians, we need more schools like this one –not fewer.

“While the Connecticut Aero Tech story ends well, the industry needs to be supportive of programs like this one and vigilant against threats of closure,” he added.

Sawyer said the school typically has a waiting list, and its graduates go on to work for nearby Pratt & Whitney, the Army and Air National Guard, Embraer, Gulfstream, General Dynamics and others. The school is popular not only with recent high school graduates, but also with veterans returning to civilian life and individuals looking for a second career.

Next spring, the Connecticut Legislature is expected to meet and examine possible tuition hikes for the state certification program.

Learn more about the Connecticut Aero Tech School for Aviation Maintenance Technicians.