August 09, 2018

Robert C. Byrd Aerospace Education Center gets grant | Times West Virginian

BRIDGEPORT — The Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center is flying high with the receipt of an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER Grant for $1,784,750.

On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin stopped by the center in Bridgeport to speak about the grant, which allows for the purchase of equipment for the aviation maintenance technician program at the center.

An oversized ceremonial check for the grant was presented by Manchin and Sen. Michael Romano. Thomas A. Stose, director-senior professor at the center, and Dr. Johnny M. Moore, president of Pierpont Community and Technical College, were on hand for the ceremony. Also present was West Virginia House of Delegates member Richard J. Iaquinta.

Stose said the grant is for the purchase of seven Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engines, among other things.

The aviation maintenance technician students will make use of the engines.

“As part of their FAA training program, they will disassemble, inspect and then reassemble those engines,” Stose said.

“It’s all about aviation safety,” Stose said. Currently, there are about 50 students enrolled, he noted.

The grant is also for $70,000 in avionics training and testing equipment, new computers for the training center, the addition of new machining equipment for the metal shop, five new digital lathes to fabricate metal components for aircraft and a new industrial compressor to handle the increased workload.

Stose noted the importance of training students to work in the field, saying there is a nationwide shortage of aviation maintenance technicians.

Manchin, a pilot himself, meanwhile, noted West Virginia’s legacy with flight.

He said spruce wood from West Virginia was used by the Wright Brothers in their quest to fly.

“Think about it,” he said.

In addition, he noted that West Virginians served as Tuskegee Airmen, and famous pilot “Chuck” Yeager was born in West Virginia.

He said the PT6 is one of the most used, utilitarian engines in the world.

“Being able to train on real technology we’re using today makes the real difference,” Manchin said.

He said jobs are waiting for graduates of the center.

Romano, who also spoke, said the jobs that the students train for at the center are good, lifetime jobs.

By:  Eric Hrin