Van Nuys Airport (VNY) School Trains A&Ps – For Free

General Aviation News
January 19, 2011 by Janice Wood

Despite California’s double-digit unemployment rate, career opportunities for students at Van Nuys Airport’s Aircraft Mechanic School are flying high. Enrolled at the only airframe and power plant mechanics training program of its kind in California, graduates who pass the required FAA certification exam are virtually guaranteed jobs, school officials say.

Founded in 1973 and operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s North Valley Occupational Center, the Aircraft Mechanic School is ranked among the top in the country and one of the only programs of its kind open to high school students. Offering a combination of classroom lecture in 45 individual subject areas and shop-oriented projects, its facilities include a high-bay hangar in which students work on actual propeller aircraft, jets and helicopters.

Approximately 150-200 students are enrolled each year in the two-year program, which is free to high school students and costs about $500 total for older students, including summer session. Both day and night classes are available.

Statistics indicate a persistent demand for both experienced and entry-level certified aircraft mechanics in the aircraft maintenance industry today. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment for aircraft mechanics and avionics equipment technicians is expected to increase by 7% between 2008 and 2018.

In addition, most job openings for aircraft mechanics will stem from the need to replace the many mechanics expected to retire over the next decade. Also contributing to favorable future job opportunities is the long-term trend toward fewer students entering technical schools to learn skilled maintenance and repair trades. If this trend continues, the supply of trained aviation mechanics may not keep up with the needs of the air transportation industry, school officials say.

There are currently an estimated 121,500 aircraft mechanics and service technicians in the U.S., with a projected employment of 129,300 over the next seven years. Wages can range from $18 to $50 per hour, or higher.

The scholarship program was founded in October 2010 in the memory of the late Milton A. Widelitz, one of VNAA’s original founders and also the founder of Aerolease Associates, a master leasehold at Van Nuys Airport since 1977. While the company provided the initial funding, a portion of all future VNAA membership fees will benefit the scholarship program. Scholarships were awarded to Luis M. Sandoval of North Hollywood, Calif. and Anabel Mesa of Granada Hills, Calif.

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