Monday, March 18, 2013

Safety is focus at annual aviation event

Ricardo Martinez (seated at table in black) listens 
to one of the many safety presentations at the 16th 
annual Aviation Maintenance Symposium at the 
Chandler-Gilbert Community College Williams Campus.

Many employers in today’s work environment value highly skilled individuals who have an eye for quality and safety. Ricardo Martinez worked for several years in different environments before putting all these skills together as an airframe and powerplant technician.

Martinez is a 2005 graduate of Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s aviation maintenance program and is now working at Boeing in Mesa. “An emphasis on safety begins the moment you step into the classroom and continues throughout one’s career,” said Martinez. “There is a stronger emphasis on doing things right than on just getting it done fast, which resonates with me.”

Martinez was one of more than 1,200 aviation-interested individuals learning about the latest safety issues at the 16th annual Aircraft Maintenance Symposium sponsored by the college in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Scottsdale Flight Standards District Office on Mar. 8. The FAA develops the program and CGCC provides the facilities.

“It’s a natural fit for us to partner with the FAA and bring continuing education classes to the aviation community,” said Mike Hutto, CGCC aviation division chair. “It is also an opportunity to demonstrate to students entering the field that the aviation profession emphasizes ongoing education, and they need to stay informed to be an asset to their employers and the industry.”  

The two-day symposium offers aviation inspectors the chance to take the eight class-hours needed every year to renew their certificates for free. It also offers aviation professionals like Martinez a chance to hear the latest technology trends and safety issues from volunteer instructors who are leaders in the field. The topics, determined by the FAA, are wide ranging, but each has a focus on safety.

“As the educational outreach arm of the FAA, the FAA Safety Team is committed to serving the general aviation community, and making our skies even safer,” said Dominick Gallo, Jr., FAA Safety Team program manager.  “Our partnership with Chandler-Gilbert Community College is unique because it is the only community college in the state that hosts an event like this and they do it for free, which is a significant benefit to many in the industry.” 

The FAA also recognizes individuals like Ed Daror with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, which recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years. Daror shared his story about escaping a concentration camp where his parents perished and his journey to the U.S. after serving the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency, during WWII and then the Israeli Air Force.

“I have to admit I’m attached to the symposium,” said Martinez, who isn’t required to attend the event but comes every year. “The FAA brings in really cool speakers who talk about things that haven’t yet been talked about or published, and then I see them incorporated into practices later on.  That has a huge value.”

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