DynCorp International’s apprentice program for aviation mechanics is featured in the current issue of Helicopter Maintenance Magazine. The program is based at McClellan Air Park, California, and also supports the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).
The Apprenticeship Program
“An apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction under the supervision of a journey-level craft person or trade professional in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly-skilled occupation,” said Jeffrey Cavarra, DynCorp International program director.
As the availability of licensed, qualified mechanics decreases, DI’s apprenticeship program has been successful in providing critical training for professionals in need of required maintenance experience. Many schools offer airframe and powerplant (A&P) and aviation maintenance technology (AMT) programs, but employers often require candidates to also have at least a few years of hands-on maintenance experience.
As part of DI’s support of the CAL FIRE aviation program to help suppress and control wildfires, CAL FIRE operates specialized aircraft and finding qualified technicians can be a challenge. To help meet program goals, DI partnered with Sacramento City College (SCC) to recruit current and recently graduated students from the aeronautics program.
A Win-Win Situation
DI’s initial goal was to obtain a technician helper and SCC recommended a recent A&P license graduate. The candidate was eventually hired and DI, CAL FIRE and SCC all easily recognized the benefits of working together. Deciding to continue the relationship, all parties agreed to develop a working internship program.
“Our ongoing working relationship between Sacramento City College’s aeronautics department and DynCorp International’s CAL FIRE program has been of great value to both DI’s CAL FIRE program and SCC’s aeronautics program,” said Phillip Cypret, SCC aeronautics department chairman.
Training through a Working Internship
For interns selected to the program, they are required to work at the CAL FIRE maintenance depot during the week in addition to attending classes during the school year. They typically take on responsibilities as a technician helper, then move on to complete hands-on maintenance supervised by a lead technician.
“As openings become available, employees can be promoted to apprentice technician, journey technician, base mechanic, quality control inspector and ultimately, lead technician. This promotional ladder provides a long-term career path for every employee,” said Cavarra.