Your input can help save needed aviation maintenance program

On April 16, 2022, the Midland Reporter-Telegram kindly published an op-ed regarding Midland College’s closure of the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program, located at Midland International Air and Space Port.

Aug. 3 is the date the program will end, unless the board of trustees of Midland College vote to renew it. This article will attempt to bring MRT readers up to date on our community’s efforts to reinstate the program, and the importance of your involvement .

During the May meeting of the MC trustees, the board graciously heard from many persons who had an interest in keeping the school open. A parade of representatives from the City of Midland, MAF and the aviation industry told the board that they need Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) now, they will need them in the future, and they need the AMT school to remain open to fill such requirements.

As of this writing, there are 22-24 available positions for AMTs in Midland, Odessa and Andrews. This number is the result of a survey taken last month among nine aviation related companies. For privacy reasons, the names of these entities and their particular requirements will not be published, but all those polled agreed to send confirmation of these numbers to the MC board of trustees. In addition to the current needs, several of those responding indicated the necessity for an equal number of AMTs in the future. We have a fast developing aviation and aerospace industry in Midland, but we have competition. One Permian Basin company recently lost AMTs to Blue Origin, located in Van Horn.

In addition to filling the vacancies in the local work force, what else might a resurrected AMT school accomplish by expansion?

Across the street from the AMT school at MAF is the former Army Reserve Training Center, which includes a dormitory. “Former,” because there is a new Training Center west of the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The General Services Administration (GSA), an arm of the Federal Government, largely controls all “excess” federal buildings. In a letter from the GSA dated Nov. 14, 2018, the GSA responded to my inquiry raising the possibility of acquisition of these buildings for the AMT school. The GSA said in part:

“As stated in your letter [dated Nov. 8, 2018 concerning the subject property]the US Army Reserve Center in Midland has not been reported excess to the US General Services Administration (GSA) for disposal.

“In the event that the US Army reports this property excess to GSA, our disposal process begins with a 30-day federal screening period. If no federal agencies express interest in acquiring the property, GSA would determine the property to be surplus to the needs of the United States. At that time, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would make a determination of whether or not the property is suitable to support the homeless. If HUD makes a suitable determination, GSA would screen for public benefit uses , such as educationhomeless and public health. This screening notice would be published on our homepage at”

A recent review of the GSA website indicated the US Army has not declared the former Reserve Training Center “excess.” However, the process of acquiring the Reserve Training Center for student housing, eliminating the need for long commutes from cities in the Permian Basin to MAF to attend the AMT school, could be started. Results from working with the GSA might be a dormitory for students, and acquisition of other buildings for storage and/or expansion into continuing education for the aerospace industry.

There are several high-hurdle, logistical problems that would have to be resolved prior to incorporating the AMT school into Midland High School and Legacy High School, but if issues, such as transportation, time away from the MHS and LHS campuses, and facilities for instruction can be answered, AMT training could begin at the high school level.

A revitalized AMT school has interesting potential that invites exploration and imaginative consideration, but all of the above depends on one thing: reinstatement of the AMT school by the Midland College board of trustees. The next meeting of the board is 4 pm Aug. 16. in the boardroom at Midland College. Hopefully, the board will vote on renewal of the AMT school at that time.

You can help. How important is it for the board to hear from you?

In the not-to-distant past, a close friend who is an AMT boarded a Southwest Airlines flight to attend a meeting in Las Vegas. The flight sat at the gate for no apparent reason. After some time had passed, one of the flight crew announced that the flight was grounded because four double-A batteries in the hand-held megaphone were dead and had to be replaced. Such megaphone is for emergency use if aircraft-generated electric power is lost. (There are many redundant systems aboard commercial aircraft). You are probably thinking, why didn’t the flight crew replace the batteries and get going.

The general (private) and commercial aviation industries in the United States are closely, at times claustrophobically governed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Nothing moves without their approval, including the replacement of double-A batteries in hand held megaphones. The flight crew, including pilots and flight attendants, cannot do so, unless they are FAA licensed AMTs.

So, there the flight to Las Vegas sat, waiting on an AMT to replace the batteries until my friend’s buddy pushed the overhead call button and announced to the steward that, “He’s (pointing to my friend) an AMT.”

Problem solved, right? No. Southwest had no double-A batteries on board. My friend left the aircraft, went to the gift shop, bought four batteries, came back on board, and replaced the batteries. Then the flight left.

None of the commercial carriers at MAF have AMTs stationed there. They rely solely on AMTs employed at local aviation maintenance companies for solving maintenance problems, “call-outs” as they are known in the industry. You, as a passenger, are going to be grounded until a certificated Aircraft Maintenance Technician fixes the call-out problem on your aircraft.

AMTs are highly educated and trained. You can call them mechanics, but they are technicians. In Canada they are called, “engineers.” We all know how difficult it is to convince skilled professionals to move to Midland. We must produce our AMTs locally . Over the last five years, according to the school’s records, approximately 80% of the graduates of the program remained in the Permian Basin for their first employment in the aviation industry.

Hopefully you are feeling personally affected by the closure of the AMT school. If so, you can help. All of the trustees on the board at Midland College are at-large elected officials. If you don’t know who they are, they have a website showing their names, pictures and contact information. Please let them know you feel it is important that Midland College keeps the AMT program. You can also write to them at: Midland College Board of Trustees, 3600 North Garfield, Midland, Texas 79705 .

You can also attend the upcoming meeting in August to show your support. Please do so.

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Jorge Oliveira

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