With a shortage of airline workers projected in the next decade by industry leaders, McKinney ISD officials saw a need to create an aviation program.

“Originally, the community, city and school district ... came together and worked towards creating this program,” said Todd Young, senior director of MISD’s Career and Technical Education program, in an email.

About the program

Started about 10 years ago, the Aviation Academy has grown to become one of the most successful CTE programs in the district, with over 200 students involved annually, Young said. Freshman and sophomore students take classes at their home campuses, while juniors and seniors work at the McKinney National Airport through a partnership with the city, he said.

“One of the coolest things is when you see students that went through our program come back and work at the McKinney National Airport,” Young said.

He said students working in the academy are:
  • Using flight simulators learning how to fly
  • Building an airplane
  • Working toward certifications for their career
The outlook

The certifications offered in the Aviation Academy prepare students for a career in the industry, Young said. Students in the program can work to earn and pass:
  • Ground school certification
  • Airframe and Aviation Powerplant exam
With a maintenance certification, students are able to be hired in the industry after graduation, Young said. From there, he said students can go on to earn additional certifications that are usually paid for by employers.

“The maintenance program prepares students to enter the workforce and work on planes,” Young said.

The ground school certification is one of three certifications required by the Federal Aviation Administration to become a pilot, Young said. By earning the certification in high school, Young said students don’t have to take a college course to earn it.

“[Students] have an upper hand when applying for admission to college,” he said.

Diving deeper

There is a need for 127,000 new pilots in North America by 2043 to meet the demand of the airline industry, according to Boeing’s annual Pilot and Technician Outlook report released in July. Globally, 649,000 new pilots will be needed by that time, the report states.

Over the next 20 years, 125,000 maintenance technicians will be needed in North America for repairs, fleet operations and overhaul services, according to the report.

“There is projected to be a shortage of airline workers in all phases of the industry,” Young said.

Other projects

The Aviation Academy is looking to offer a drone program to students by the 2024-25 school year, Young said. In this program, he said students will be able to earn their certification for flying drones.

“Currently, the FAA is revamping this certification, and we need to see what the requirements are so that our students are prepared,” Young said.

More information on McKinney ISD’S Aviation Academy can be found on the district website.