JAMESTOWN, N.C. — The highly regarded Aviation Systems Technology (AST) program at Guilford Technical Community College will make several programmatic changes during the next few months to strengthen the way it operates. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—which regulates the aviation industry—recommended the changes following a routine inspection.

GTCC President Dr. Randy Parker said the focus is on four areas that will help the AST program better support the area’s growing aviation industry. The goal is to improve the uniformity of its aviation maintenance courses; simplify and strengthen classroom recordkeeping; and fill an open leadership position in Aviation Systems, one of four degree curriculums.

The program also will change the way it has applied course hours from its Avionics Technology degree toward an FAA certification. That is the only adjustment that will directly affect students, Dr. Parker said.

When GTCC began offering an Avionics Technology degree in 2011, course contact hours from that curriculum were routinely applied toward FAA Airframe and Powerplant  (A&P) certification.  This certification, which strengthens students’ credentials in aircraft maintenance, is regulated by the FAA and is not an academic requirement.

The FAA recently determined that those hours should not have been applied for that purpose, Dr. Parker said. So a small number of students interested in adding the certification to their avionics resumes will have to retake some course hours.

GTCC estimates that about 60 students or former students may have received A&P certification hours from Avionics Technology courses during the three years the practice was in effect, but no more than one third will want to pursue FAA certification.

GTCC will cover instructional costs to retake course hours toward certification. The school also will offer a refund option to students who took the same classes and who don’t plan to pursue certification.

“Our students are our first concern,” Dr. Parker said. “During the next couple of weeks, we’ll meet with all of them who may be affected. And we’ll work individually with students who want A&P certification to make the process as convenient for them as possible.”

“Our vision is to be a catalyst for our students’ success, and to help them achieve the goals they set for themselves when they enter our programs at GTCC,” added Jarvis Harris, chair of the GTCC Board of Trustees. “I’m confident Dr. Parker and our aviation team will do all that’s necessary to make that happen for these students.”

Dr. Parker emphasized that the certification issue does not affect any GTCC aviation students’ academic standing, the degrees they receive, or their ability to apply for jobs. It only affects a small number who have Avionics Technology course hours and want to pursue the FAA’s Airframe and Powerplant certification.

He said aviation businesses in the Triad who depend upon GTCC for highly trained employees have been made aware of the situation, and how the school is addressing it. “We do not expect this to have any impact on our business partners,” he added.

Steve Johnston, vice president of Administration with Honda Aircraft Company said GTCC’s aviation training programs have played an important role in meeting Honda Aircraft Company’s production workforce needs.

“GTCC has proven its ability to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in aviation,” he said. “GTCC is a valuable resource for Greensboro in ensuring this region maintains a strong pipeline of highly skilled individuals to support our growing aviation cluster. Honda Aircraft Company has enjoyed a long term and close-working relationship with GTCC. We remain fully confident of GTCC’s direction and in its leadership.”

“We rely heavily on GTCC to provide the aviation talent to fill the skills gaps we’re experiencing in our industry,” said Kip Blakely, vice president of Industry and Government Relations at HAECO. “Education and training are key to our growth, and the GTCC aviation program plays a leadership role in providing both. It’s a significant contributor to the economic vibrancy of Guilford County.”

Guilford Technical Community College is the third largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves more than 40,000 students annually from five campuses and a Small Business Center. Learn more at or