Niagara County Community College has announced a new partnership.
It stated, “With a substantial and increasing international demand for air travel and a present existing shortage of qualified aviation professionals, the worldwide need for pilots and technicians is immediate and rapidly growing. Boeing’s recent ‘Pilot and Technician Outlook’ report cited a need, between now and 2041, for more than 600,000 new pilots and 600,000 new maintenance technicians.
“Well-paying aviation careers are available, yet qualified personnel are sparse. While training is an option, many require life-altering commitment (such as the military) or are otherwise prohibitively expensive and inconvenient. Rarer still are private academies that provide a unified approach to training, coupling aviation-focused training with academic rigor. Niagara Falls Flight Academy (NFFA) and Niagara County Community College (NCCC) intend to solve this problem, offering a new, comprehensive program to help the industry fulfill its staffing needs.”
NFFA, owned and operated by pilot-entrepreneur Joseph E. Wolfson, is on course to become one of the nation’s first comprehensive aviation training centers. Wolfson was a pioneer in the electronic banking world as the founder of the Metroteller Network.
Headquartered in Niagara Falls – home of joint civil/military airfield Niagara Falls International Airport – NFFA and NCCC intend to develop an affordable, “best in breed” complementary program, marrying pilot training, aircraft mechanics and technician programs with a two-year academic degree.
NCCC provides NFFA with an accessible option for students to satisfy formal educational requirements, while NFFA will, among other things, utilize and provide the integrated Cessna pilot training program that has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
A press release stated, “Together, NFFA and NCCC will offer students a modern, well-defined, fast-track to career placement in a growing industry.
“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 13% from 2020-30, faster than the average for all occupations.”
The Niagara Falls Flight Academy will have two phases. Phase one is designed to create a world-class flight training program. Phase two will start a new technical school to train airframe/power plant and avionics technicians.
“Our top priority right now is to raise capital for the project and to look for investors that want to get in on the ground floor of this exciting opportunity,” Wolfson said. “Our goal is to create a template for expansion in other parts of the United States.”
Wolfson has partnered with NCCC to provide a comprehensive program including two-year and certificate degrees and pilot and aviation technician training programs.
NCCC President Dr. William J. Murabito said the joint venture with the Niagara Falls Flight Academy is an excellent opportunity to prepare the next generation of pilots: “We plan to work with our local high schools in the area to promote the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) aviation STEM curriculum. The AOPA High School Aviation STEM curriculum is the first of its kind, offering students comprehensive four-year aviation study options that are aligned to Common Core State Standards. AOPA has created these courses as part of two career and technical education (CTE) pathways.”
NCCC is currently working with the State University of New York and the New York State Department of Education to secure all necessary approvals for the degree program.
Wolfson said he is currently exploring sites for the new flight school with Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) officials at the Niagara Falls airport location.
It is anticipated the Niagara Falls Flight Academy will open its doors in fall 2022. For more information, contact Wolfson at 716-228-1547 or email [email protected].