Arkansas Community Colleges Team Up for More Aviation Programs

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - Several Arkansas community colleges are teaming up to increase aviation education in the state.

Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville and Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock are members of the consortium that hopes to expand aviation programs, as interest in flying and fixing airplanes is on the rise.

Pulaski Tech's Steve Hotie says his students are hired before they're even done with school.  Hotie says demand for aircraft mechanics is high right now.

Pulaski Tech's program is based at the North Little Rock Airport.  Hotie says the college plans to build a second hangar that will more than double the program's instruction space.

Nine community colleges, including ASU-Newport, have formed a consortium to increase the state's aviation offerings.

The Federal Aviation Administration has certified 170 aviation maintenance programs throughout the country.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, aircraft mechanics and service technicians made a median wage of $21.77 per hour in May 2004.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)