The federal government has given final approval to Southern Utah University (SUU)’s expansion of its aviation program. In December the Federal Aviation Administration granted final approval for a Part 147 certificate allowing SUU to offer Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) licenses to students upon successful completion of the academic program requirements and independent testing by a Designated Maintenance Examiner (DME).
“Historic changes are now underway,” said Michael Mower, executive director of SUU Aviation. “For the first time ever, an Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) training program to include helicopters is launching at SUU this semester. We worked with our partners in the industry, Washington, DC, and the Federal Aviation Administration to make this happen.”
SUU currently trains 10 percent of the nation’s helicopter pilots and a significant number of fixed-wing pilots. With this approval, SUU Aviation is expanding its offerings and will begin training maintenance technicians through the Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) Program in spring 2020.
SUU’s AMT Program is the most up-to-date in the nation, with the curriculum stemming from the Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act (S.3043/H.R.5427) that was introduced to the House of Representatives and Senate in December 2019. It's also the only A&P program with helicopter maintenance used as the curriculum focus while still covering airplane maintenance. The program is designed to be completed in five consecutive semesters, resulting in an associate degree and A&P license.
Through the AMT Program, SUU hopes to contribute to the growing demand for aviation mechanics across the country. In the 2016 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook, it was estimated there will be a need for 180,000 new A&P Mechanics in North America by 2035.
With the shortage of maintenance technicians, regional employers are eager to support and hire graduates of the program and have been crucial to the program’s approval. With the current demand, and an average starting wage of $52,000, these graduates can look forward to a greater and faster return than most on their educational investment.
The first cohort of students will begin the AMT program in spring 2020. Currently, the building capacity is 250 students, but an additional building and training equipment to accommodate 1000 students are part of future plans.