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Broward College Student Sets Sights on Repairing Aviation Mechanic Shortage

July 11, 2019 | More People, News

When he was just a kid growing up in Nigeria, Davidson Nzekwe-Daniel would build model airplanes out of paper, cardboard, and tape and power the plastic propellers with a small DC battery. Each time the primitive technology rolled off the table and failed to fly, he wondered why.

“I was in a world all my own,” said Nzekwe-Daniel, who doubles as a student and mechanic at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College. “I needed to learn how these machines work.”

That curiosity and a desire to dissect real turbine jet engines landed him at Broward College two years ago. At the end of the upcoming fall semester, he will graduate with an associate degree in Aviation Maintenance.

Aviation Maintenance studentsFinding a job that is responsible for keeping passengers and flight crew safe shouldn’t be much trouble. A Boeing report estimates that the aviation industry will need 754,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians over the next two decades, more than 80 percent of them for the growing commercial sector. But, while the demand for aviation mechanics is at an all-time high, a headwind looms on the horizon.

Nzekwe-Daniel said Federal Aviation Administration regulations that dictate what aviation programs teach aspiring mechanics had not kept pace with sophisticated industry technology. He can attest. Nzekwe-Daniel needed three attempts to gain the FAA Airframe and Powerplant certification essential for employment.

Airlines Scramble for Technicians

Part of the problem is that the FAA-enforced curriculum is time- rather than competency-based, schools with aviation programs, like Broward College, have only so many credit hours to design an academic program. With little wriggle room to incorporate subject areas beyond those dictated in the 1,900-hour syllabus, Nzekwe-Daniel said some students are unable to reinforce the competencies they need to pass their qualifying exams for FAA licenses in Airframe and Powerplant. As a result, many companies that are scrambling for maintenance technicians have joined educators to urge Congress to legislate the first revisions to the federally authorized curriculum in some 40 years.

Reluctant to wait for the government to step up to the plate, Nzekwe-Daniel, with support from Broward College faculty and administrators, took it upon himself to research a temporary solution. He created a refresher course of sorts, which he dubbed “Curriculum Practical Training, (CPT)” for Broward College aviation students who are determined to bolster their skills leading up to the FAA Practical Test Standards required for Airframe and Powerplant maintenance certification. 

Temporary Solution Takes Off

Nzekwe-Daniel said 25 students at the Aviation Institute completed CPT in June, at no cost. Two students who completed the trial offering in January already obtained FAA Airframe and Power Plant certificates and entered the workforce. Fort Lauderdale-based GA Telesis and Xtreme Aviation in Doral are interested in offering CPT to their employees.

In the meantime, Nzekwe-Daniel relishes the opportunity to spread the word about CPT to other Florida colleges with aviation programs while he promotes the virtues of flight at campus events, job fairs and at K-12 schools in Broward County.

“It’s the most satisfying feeling to help someone get their FAA license and achieve their goals,” said Nzekwe-Daniel. “I love aviation and serving others. My passion is now my purpose.”

As the global fleet of jet airliners expands, the demand for aviation mechanics is predicted to remain strong. Programs of study at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College can lead to FAA certification and help your job prospects soar.

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