March 22, 2017

Training aviation technicians to meet the industry demand for maintaining and repairing airframes, avionics and powerplants is most effective when hands-on work reinforces the knowledge on the system that was introduced in the classroom.

Acquiring training tools that embody the systems found on today’s turbine-powered business aircraft is an economic challenge Alabama’s Enterprise State Community College (ESCC) met when it bought three U.S. Army C-12s – at much below market value –  for its Alabama Aviation Center (AAC) main facility at Ozark, AL.

Based on the Beechcraft King Air 200, the C-12 acquisition has significantly increased the educational opportunities not previously available, school officials said. The school’s only fixed-wing turbine aircraft, they will give AAC’s students hands-on experience with operational aircraft rather than training boards for such complex systems as cabin pressurization, on-board fire detection and protection, weather radar, satellite navigation and anti-icing/de-icing, said AAC Director Jay Harbert.

AAC acquired the three airworthy C-12s from the General Services Administration’s Property Management Division for $12,000. The school said the acquisition would have been impossible at the current fair market price for the aircraft, approximately $184,000. The C-12s made their last flights from the U.S. Army’s fixed-wing training operation in Dothan, AL, 23 miles to the southeast of the center.

Manufactured between 1977 and 1982, the C-12s are the most modern aircraft in the school’s training fleet of 27 aircraft, which starts with a Cessna 150 and includes four former military helicopters. The C-12s will not fly again, but AAC will maintain their operational capabilities “so they can be run up and systems checked or demonstrated,” said Harbert.

“Sound instruction in theory and using training aids is certainly very important, but nothing makes a lasting impression like learning on the actual aircraft,” he added.

Enterprise State Community College’s Alabama Aviation Center in Ozark helps students launch careers in aviation maintenance, one of Alabama’s hottest career fields, according to the college. The aviation campus also offers a five-semester avionics technology program offering instruction in navigation, onboard computers, autopilots, communication radios and related skills.

The program’s emphasis on careers in general aviation as an industry that supports more than 1 million American jobs, reflects a central theme of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, jointly sponsored by NBAA and GAMA.

Learn more about the Alabama Aviation Center.