New aviation maintenance training facility offering classes on Southwest Side from 27 September

Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday announced the opening of a new aviation training facility on the Southwest Side, calling it a “powerful step” toward educating and hiring people from under-represented communities and getting them into the industry.

“Our long-term economic success as a state depends on our investment in the next generation, which will soon take on the task of managing our key industries,” Pritzker said Wednesday afternoon.

Pritzker was joined by the US Rep. Marie Newman and other city and state-elected officials at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s new training center, 3711 S. Ashland in the McKinley Park neighborhood.

The institute will offer Federal Aviation Association certified maintenance training with classes to begin for 40 students on September 27th. The plans require 200 students to enroll next year.

The 137,000-square-foot aviation maintenance institute, housed in a former warehouse, includes a hangar, 17 classrooms, administrative offices and a laboratory for learning about aviation electronics as used in the aviation industry.

Gov.  JB Pritzker speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new aviation maintenance facility at McKinley Park on Wednesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new aviation maintenance facility at McKinley Park on Wednesday.
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Billed as the department’s “largest education program in the nation,” the training facility is collaborating with City Colleges in Chicago on a credit sharing agreement and will also work with Southern Illinois University’s School of Aviation to help students at the facility receive a bachelor’s degree after completing the aviation education program.

Interior of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance facility at 3711 S. Ashland.

Interior of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance facility at 3711 S. Ashland.
Provided by the office of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker

The department also plans to partner with Olive-Harvey College to enable them in high school to take four general courses that can be transferred to a program at the department focusing on the aircraft’s exterior and engine. The Aviation Institute also plans to pursue other agreements with colleges and universities in Illinois to “encourage the recruitment of minority students,” according to a press release on the training facility.

Pritzker and others who showed up at Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting talked about the long-term impact the training facility could have, such as a job that pays about $ 72,000 a year – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – in an industry expected to bring in 4,300 jobs. state over the next decade and growing “at a much faster pace than the U.S. average,” Pritzker said.

“By providing a diverse and talented pool of professionals with the opportunity to step up to the plate, we can ensure that our businesses and institutions here in Illinois will continue to grow and innovate and thrive well into the future,” Pritzker said. “It especially includes our aerospace and aviation and transportation industries.”

Gov.  JB Pritzker speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance's new training center at 3711 S. Ashland on Wednesday.  & Nbsp;

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s new training center at 3711 S. Ashland on Wednesday.
@GovPritzker Twitter feed

John Holmes, CEO of the aviation services provider AAR, said the aviation industry is likely to need over 130,000 new maintenance technicians in North America and over 600,000 globally over the next “several years.”

As the largest maintenance, repair and overhaul company in North America and the third largest in the world, “we feel that lack of talent every day,” Holmes said.

“Students can continue their education here at [Aviation Institute of Maintenance] to get more advanced certifications and ultimately, after graduation, AAR – among the other big companies like United, Southwest Boeing and others – will eagerly wait to hire them for a long, well-paid, long-lasting rewarding career in aviation, ” said Holmes.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who did not personally attend the announcement, said in a statement that “connecting our residents to stable, well-paying and meaningful careers in growing industries is a critical component of our post-pandemic economic recovery strategy.”

“I am pleased to see that the Aviation Institute of Maintenance is supporting this goal by expanding its presence and training resources in our underserved neighborhoods,” Lightfoot said. “Chicago airports have long been known for being world-class, and this new campus will allow residents to participate in this splendor through exciting educational and employment opportunities.”

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