The state put out a bid in August to purchase a Learjet for the Connecticut Aero Tech School but no qualified bidders responded. On Wednesday as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy toured the school, its Aviation Maintenance Department head stressed the continued need for the aircraft.
“We could really use an airplane,” Charles Hilton told the governor as they walked the school’s hangar decks.
The school, which currently is readying 41 students for a career in aircraft maintenance, is equipped with training models designed to familiarize students with various aircraft systems. But Hilton said a complete plane would help students learn how modern systems interact with each other.
Pat Ciccone, superintendent of Connecticut’s technical high schools, said the state had planned to purchase a Learjet for the school with bonded money left over from its construction. It’s typical for some of that money to be used for things like training equipment, she said. While there’s still several hundred thousand dollars left over from the project, Ciccone said it would likely require some or all of that to procure a working aircraft.
The Department of Administrative Services put out a request for proposals and received eight back.
“There were no takers,” Ciccone said. “The Department of Administrative Services didn’t see that they had enough appropriate proposals.”
Ciccone said the state is trying to rework its request for proposal in an effort to attract different bidders.
The governor seemed optimistic the school will someday get its plane.
“Am I in favor of them getting a jet? The answer is yes,” he said later but added how that comes to pass still needs to be worked out.
Malloy said working on an actual aircraft seemed vital to understanding integrated systems.
“Technology has changed,” he said.
“[A jet] would finally give these students the opportunity to work on an integrated aircraft,” she said, noting the school has some donated older planes from the 1950s and 60s.
Malloy said the program was an important one because there is such a high demand for aircraft technicians that employers have trouble finding enough qualified workers to fill positions. As a result nearly everyone who finishes the program gets a job.
“This is yet another program in Connecticut where we can place every student who finishes it [in a job],” Malloy said.
Hilton, who went through the same program in 1981 at a school in Danielson, seemed pleased by the governor’s visit
“I’m glad he came. He’s interested and there’s definitely employment opportunities for our graduates,” he said.