Airframe Instructor/Coordinator

Pictured here are Airframe Instructor/Coordinator Thomas Mitchell, Dean of Applied Sciences and Workforce Education Johnny Guzman, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Mark Underwood, SWTJC President Dr. Hector Gonzales, FAA Inspector Carl Newton, Business, Industrial, and Technical Studies Division Chair Luis Fernandez, FAA Manager Michael Carrol.

Southwest Texas Junior College is now an official Part 147 General and Airframe training school. On Dec. 19, SWTJC officials received the official notice of the approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the college announced recently.

The FAA is the governmental body of the United States with powers to regulate all

aspects of civil aviation in that nation as well as over its surrounding international waters.

The college has been in the approval process for the last two years, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences Johnny Guzman said in a release by SWTJC.

“A few years ago, a group of Del Rio community leaders and Laughlin Air Force Base officials approached SWTJC with the idea to initiate an aviation maintenance program,” Guzman said.

“The goal was to provide a workforce for the increasing demand for aviation mechanics specifically for the base in Del Rio. It has been a long road. We began the application process back in 2018, so you can imagine the joy we felt after learning we were finally approved,” he said.

The FAA 147 curriculum-based program is a Level 2 Certificate program for those who desire to gain knowledge and skills in the airframe mechanics field, Guzman said. 

The program includes aviation shop practices, ground operations, aviation science, basic electricity, landing gear systems, and airframe inspection, along with shop safety, servicing, and general operating procedures.

Instructors for the airframe mechanics program are Thomas A. Mitchell and Eloy Sifuentes of Del Rio.

Mitchell is a licensed airframe and powerplant technician with a bachelor’s degree from Hallmark University in professional aeronautics. Sifuentes is a 1994 graduate of Hallmark University with an associate in aviation maintenance technology and has over 30 years of experience in the aviation maintenance field.

The airframe mechanics program prepares and qualifies students to take FAA mechanic’s exams for the general airframe license. Once students have completed the program, they will be able to seek entry-level employment in airframe mechanic-related fields.

The first cohort began classes on Jan. 6 in Del Rio. Classroom lectures are conducted at the Del Rio campus, while lab instruction is taught at the Del Rio International Airport.

According to a May 2018 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $62,920.

Anyone wanting general information about the airframe mechanics program at SWTJC can contact Mitchell, at tmitchell23200@swtjc.edu.

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