FAA Certifies Southern California Logistics Airport School of Aviation Technology at former George

  • Published
  • By Susan Wolbarst
  • AFRPA / PA
The Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) School of Aviation Technology has received final certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to train aircraft mechanics, who must be licensed by the FAA. The school, located on the former George Air Force Base, in Victorville, Calif. opened in March, 2009, with 18 students.

Curriculum at the school is divided into three components, each requires FAA certification, according to Elaine Behrse of the City of Victorville, who serves as administrator for the school. The sessions include: General Aviation, Powerplant (the engine), and Airframe. Students receive a total of 2,050 hours of instruction over 82-weeks. Afterward, they get a certificate of completion and become eligible to be tested by the FAA in each component. If they pass the tests and get licensed, their credentials are good to work anywhere in the world.

Currently, the school has 55 students. Another 30 pupils will begin studying there soon. Due to grants and economic stimulus funding received by the school, students have been able to attend classes without paying any tuition. Even so, the program has experienced some attrition, Behrse said.

The idea is to create a trained pool of applicants for high-paying jobs in Victorville and the surrounding region, where unemployment is high. According to Behrse, "The starting wage (for airline mechanics) is around $40,000 a year." Demand for airplane mechanics reportedly outstrips supply. SCLA alone has 17 aviation-related businesses. Other airports in the region with an ongoing need for mechanics are in Ontario and Las Vegas.
Martin Powell, an aircraft electrician, assists in teaching basic electricity at the SCLA school. Powell retired twice: from the U.S. Air Force, where he "worked on many kinds of planes," and from California Steel Industries. He discussed how students at the school learn "hands-on" about welding, sheet metal, hydraulics, and electrical systems as he showed off the facility's classrooms. "Once they get their Airframe certificate, if they don't want to work for an airline, they can work at Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland, etc. All the rides are the same as airplanes: hydraulics, electricity, and air," he said.

The Air Force Real Property Agency, responsible for buying, selling and managing Air Force property worldwide, supports programs such as the SCLA School of Aviation Technology, which helps optimize assets at former Air Force installations, driving economic redevelopment and public benefit.