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PCC celebrates commercial aircraft donation to its aviation programs

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Landing

Horizon’s Bombardier Q400 lands at Hillsboro Airport.

On the morning of Friday, Nov. 18, Horizon Air flew a Bombardier Q400 to Hillsboro Airport and donated the former commercial aircraft to the Portland Community College Foundation.

The Q400 will be used by PCC’s Aviation Science (AVS) and Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) programs for hands-on training on modern engine and avionics technologies.

College staff, students, partners and community members were on hand for remarks and the landing of the Bombardier Q400 – Dr. Adrien Bennings, PCC President; Jennifer Monnig, PCC Foundation Board President; Steve Nagy, Director of Airport Operations, HIO; and Archie Vega, Director of Line/Base Maintenance and Student Development, Horizon Air.

As a result of the donation, PCC’s aviation programs will now have access to additional modern hands-on learning opportunities with this donation.

“It’s critical to have hands-on experience for our students, and we’re doing that with this donation for aviation maintenance,” said Bennings. “Collaboration and partnership with the community make great things happen.”

This donated Horizon Q400 will be housed at the Hillsboro Airport for students and faculty to work on. The avionics systems and structure will be intact for students to perform hands-on learning with a large transport aircraft. In addition to the Q400, Horizon donated 50 iPads to ensure they have the latest procedures and manuals to work the aircraft to commercial standards.

Water cannon

The plane received a water cannon salute from Hillsboro Fire.

Industry Shortage

There is a dire need for trained aviation industry professionals now and for the foreseeable future. According to Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook 2022-41, there will be a projected global demand for 610,000 civil aviation AMTs over the next 20 years, compared to a need for 602,000 new pilots, excluding business aviation. Nationwide, that’s a huge hole to fill. PCC, and schools like it in the country, are the primary means by which the aviation industry gains new workers.

The Oregon Employment Department forecasts that the employment of aviation mechanics in the Portland area will grow by 14.6% through 2027, and 6% for pilots nationwide. As shown by Boeing’s report, the aviation industry is in significant demand for new certificated airframe and powerplant mechanics.

“This is a huge dream coming true,” said Vega of Horizon. “Our relationship with PCC is extremely strong. All the faculty and everyone associated with the school are an outstanding group of individuals over there. And I look forward to working with them all year long as we continue to grow.”

Archie Vega

Horizon’s Archie Vega talks with the media.

Addressing the Problem

PCC, and schools like it in the country, are the primary means by which the aviation industry gains new workers, and it is critical the college has relevant tools for students to train with and on. PCC’s aviation programs provide students with the required experience and education to qualify to sit for the federal certification exams. Since 1969, the programs have trained high-quality graduates to enter the aviation maintenance profession as well as work as a professional pilot.

The AMT Program has a success rate (first time taking each class) around 70%, which is nearly double the rate of PCC as a whole. Of the AMT students that attempt the certification exams after completing the program, nearly 100% become certificated.

“This is about the future, this is about students, this is about aviation tomorrow,” said Steve Nagy, director of Airport Operations.

Poppie

PCC board of director Mohamed Alyajouri takes a selfie with Poppie.

Horizon Aircraft Training

Though all passenger seats will be removed, the plane’s avionics systems and structure will be intact for students to perform hands-on learning with a large transport aircraft.

AMT plans to use the aircraft to immerse students in modern commercial aircraft technology and turbine engine dynamics; analyze the use of modern maintenance documentation to perform and troubleshoot; train on the common servicing and maintenance procedures encountered by new mechanics in the field; review electronic flight deck systems and maintenance diagnostics; and practice engine run and aircraft taxi procedures, as well as aircraft ground movement practices.

AVS will conduct transport aircraft systems familiarization training, including turbine engine education, transport aircraft avionics (instruments and navigation) and use it as an airline/transport aircraft procedural trainer.

High school students in the O-ACE program, a collaborative effort between PCC, Hillsboro School District and the Oregon Air Show Charitable Foundation, will also benefit from this donation.

Kayler

PCC aviation maintenance alum Kayler Randall.

Latest Effort

The college is leading the way on several aviation training fronts to help build a future workforce. In 2020, the college partnered with the Hillsboro School District, Oregon Air Show Charitable Foundation and other key partners to create the dual-credit Oregon Aerospace Careers for Everyone (O-ACE) Program for high school students interested in careers as aviation maintenance technicians, avionics technicians or professional pilots.

Last year, AMT entered into a partnership with Horizon Air called the Horizon Technician Development Program, providing students with industry-relevant training and employment opportunities.

“This Q400 will give students the opportunity to get their hands on a full-size airplane from a real airline and the skills and knowledge they gain will carry them for their entire career,” said Kayler Randall, a graduate of the PCC-Horizon program, who was hired as an aircraft technician in 2021. “This is a huge asset to the program, and I’m really grateful to everyone involved in making this happen.”

For more information on the PCC Foundation, visit https://www.pcc.edu/foundation.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Public Relations Manager at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic, Wo... more »