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Pima prepares for Aviation Tech expansion

State funding is first for the College since 2015

June 4, 2019

TUCSON, AZ - May 31, 2019 - Southern Arizona’s aviation industry soon will get a much need workforce boost following state one-time appropriation of $15 million to Pima Community College’s nationally recognized Aviation Technology Program.  

The PCC Aviation Center is the only facility in Arizona to focus on maintenance and repair training for large transport commercial aircraft. The program expects to break ground on the expansion this fall and welcome new students as early as Fall 2020.

The funding was part of the Arizona Legislature’s $11.8 billion budget bill passed late this month. The funding will allow the College to double the facility to train aviation technology students, dramatically reducing or eliminating the current one-year wait time for students to get into the program.  The funding also represents the first funding from the state to Pima Community College since 2015.

Currently the program trains 125 to 150 students a year in the facility adjacent to the Tucson International Airport. Expansion will allow the college to train 250 students a year, most of who are expected to have jobs lined up before they graduate.

Pima County represents the largest concentration of aviation occupations in the Southern Arizona region with 1,336 of the total 1,535 jobs reported in 2015.  The College helps supply the workforce for 15 Arizona aviation employers.

“We are grateful to the legislature, Gov. Ducey, and all of our aviation partners for their support of this expansion,” said Pima Chancellor Lee Lambert. “Together we expect to create 300 additional direct jobs in the industry over the next 5 years.”

Graduates’ median annual earnings range from $57,000 for aircraft mechanics to $65,000 for avionics technicians, not including overtime and shift differential pay. Moreover, Pima is one of the few U.S. schools teaching the highly sought after and well-paying specialty of Advanced Structural Repair and Modification; is one of a handful of FAA-approved schools with curriculum covering commercial jet transports; and is one of only 87, or about half, of FAA-approved schools offering an Aviation Maintenance degree.

The College sought $20 million from the state, which would have provided for $15 million to construct the facility and $5 million for the purchase of equipment, and limited faculty salaries. The College will seek alternative sources of funding for equipment and faculty.


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