The final hurdles have been cleared, and a new building and hangar for Charlotte Technical College’s Aviation program at Punta Gorda Airport will be completed in spring 2025, said Amanda Fox, aviation maintenance specialist for the school.
Students in the General Airframe and Powerplant courses have been training in an old hangar and portable classroom on Punta Gorda Airport grounds since 2021 through a lease agreement with the Charlotte County School Board.
Charlotte Technical College, or CTC, is part of the Charlotte County Public Schools system.
The aviation program’s new location will be situated on an acre by the airport’s general aviation ramp on Challenger Boulevard.
Due to increased enrollment, CTC determined it needed a larger, permanent building for classrooms and a hangar. Then the Charlotte County Airport Authority, which owns and operates Punta Gorda Airport, informed the board it would need the aviation training space for airport expansion.
The airport authority, with the help of state Rep. Michael Grant and other local representatives, initially obtained a $3 million grant from the Florida Legislature through the Office of Economic Opportunity to partially fund a new facility for the aviation program.
However, the construction cost is $7.5 million, and adding in other factors, such as design, the facility will cost an estimated $8.1 million. During its August meeting the airport authority unanimously voted to ask the state for $5.5 million to close the gap.
In addition to the building, 100 parking spaces for the students will be provided. The airport authority said it would pay for 50 of those spaces since the school board paid for the 100 spaces at its current location on airport grounds.
The new building will total 19,420 square feet, including 9,015 square feet of classroom space and a 10,405-square-foot hangar. Fox said there will be four classrooms, with each housing 25 students.
Although the school is permitted to have a 150-student enrollment, CTC chose to keep its enrollment smaller, Fox said.
The demand for Federal Aviation Administration-licensed Aviation Maintenance Technology technicians is great, various officials with CTC and the airport authority have stated in the past.
After students complete their Airframe and Powerplant courses, they can apply for licenses.
According to worldwide employment website Indeed, demand for aviation mechanics is expected to grow 4% from 2022 through 2032 with 12,800 openings each year. Employment marketplace ZipRecruiter reported aircraft mechanics can earn up to $130,000 annually.
“Training new Airframe and Powerplant-certified mechanics is essential to the future of air travel and the aviation industry,” Charlotte County Airport Authority Chair Robert D. Hancik said. “This funding will further solidify CTC’s success and allow for the continued expansion of its training program at PGD.”