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Sky’s The Limit: New MNTC Aviation Maintenance Program Expected in 2023

Written by Sharla Bardin for 19th St. Magazine, July 2021


Administrators at Moore Norman Technology Center are gearing up now for a new aviation program targeted for lift-off in August 2023.

The program for adults will offer training in a growing field with a variety of career paths and can help meet workforce needs of commercial, military and private aerospace companies in the region, said Lee Dow, director of aerospace and transportation at the center.

Students in the aviation maintenance technician program will work to achieve airframe and powerplant mechanics certification, which are through the Federal Aviation Administration.

The technicians will learn skills that can be used for jobs at airlines, fixed-base operators, manufacturers, repair stations, aviation maintenance schools and in business or general aviation, according to information from the FAA’s website.

Dow said the center is in the process of developing the program and working with the FAA on standards, curriculum and an Aviation Maintenance Technician School operations manual.    Upcoming tasks include establishing an advisory committee of industry professionals who can offer guidance with the program and feedback on current industry practices and needs. In addition, center administrators are determining equipment needs for the program, which will be offered at the Franklin Road campus.

For example, plans include setting up a hangar for different types of aircraft and industry-specific trainers for students to gain hands-on experience.

Dow said starting the aviation maintenance technician program has been a goal for center administrators for years, given the job opportunities available at aviation industries in the region, such as Tinker Air Force Base, Will Rogers World Airport and a growing number of private aerospace businesses.

In addition, Dow said economic studies have shown that aerospace is the second largest industry in Oklahoma behind the oil and gas industry.

Dow said he believes the center’s program will offer students a broad base of knowledge that they can use in a variety of career paths within the aviation field.

He also said he’s excited to be involved with developing a new program. Dow started the director’s position in January after serving as a longtime automotive coordinator and instructor at the center. He said he believes the program will continue the center’s tradition of providing quality, innovative and in-demand programs.

“I’m proud to be part of it and excited to know that the community and industry knows what Moore Norman Technology Center is going to bring,” Dow said. “We’re coming and we’re excited to be a part of the aerospace industry going forward.”

Justin Benard also is involved in the new program as an aviation instructor. Prior to the center, he worked for Martin Aviation as a general aviation aircraft mechanic and later was employed with SkyWest Inc. as an aircraft mechanic and an aircraft mechanic crew lead.

Benard said he’s looking forward to watching the program grow and helping students learn more about job opportunities in the industry.

“The thing that makes me the most excited about being part of this new program is that I am on the team providing input for the groundwork required to get the program up and going,” Benard said, in an email response. “I love the aviation field and I am super excited to be a part of the students’ career pathway into successful aviation careers.”

For more information about the program, visit

Aviation industry soaring in state

In 2016, research was conducted on the economic impacts of aviation and aerospace industries in Oklahoma. The study showed that airports, off-airport aviation and aerospace businesses and military aviation produce almost $44 billion in annual economic activity in the state.

The study also showed that aviation and aerospace businesses support 206,000 jobs, and the average salary in aviation and aerospace is just over $73,000, according to information on the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission’s website at