Curriculum changes for aviation maintenance schools would provide a higher quality mechanic in about four years, according to Les Vipond, an aviation safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Vipond was in Oklahoma City last week for a public listening session concerning changes proposed in federal regulations dealing with aviation maintenance technician schools.
"We are about six months into the process of changing those regulations now," he said. "It normally takes at least two years for rules to be changed and adopted once they are proposed."
Some of the changes will deal with strictly administrative rules, such as what type of teacher can be instructor for a specific type of class, but others will deal with more substantive matters, Vipond said.
"With the new wave of aircraft coming out now," he said, "there's a real problem in teaching how to repair them and just what courses should be taught.
"Our current regulations were adopted in 1970 long before most of these inovations were even thought of. For instance, all the electronics in the so-called `glass cockpits' which reduce the number of instruments in a plane.
"Now, most of the new planes will have television-like monitors instead of guages, they have a lot more electronics that were thought when the current rules were adopted.
"Also, there's the matter of composites which are gaining a much wider acceptance in the aviation industry. A few years ago, these weren't even thought of. Now, there're in nearly every plane made.
"People who are graduating from our schools today really don't understand these new items, so we've got to change our rules and regulations concerning curriculum so that courses on these can be taught."
The listening session, held at Metro Tech's Aviation Career Center on Will Rogers World Airport, was one of three in the United States. One was conducted in Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 29 and 30 and another is scheduled for Thursday and Friday in San Jose, Calif.
"These listening sessions," Vipond said, "give the interested public an opportunity to discuss the proposed changes, give their input and, hopefully, allow us to come up with better rules and regulataions."
Officials in Washington selected the Aviation Career Center as one of the sites, Vipond said, because of the geographical location of Oklahoma City and "because of the quality of this facility."
"We know a lot of the people involved," he said, "and I just can't say enough good about this school, the facility and the people who put it together.
"I have worked with Bob (Jardee, director of the center) on numerous occassions and because of his expertise and knowledge, I know this is going to be a good school. …