ROME — Much like the industry it represents, Mohawk Valley Community College's Airframe and Powerplant Technology (A&P) program has grown over the last decade.
And while the program has physically outgrown its training center at Griffiss International Airport, according to airport Commissioner Chad Lawrence, the college and Oneida County have committed to a multi-million-dollar solution.
Plans are in the works to renovate one of the airport's hangar bays — nose dock 782 — to relocate the A&P program's training center. Lawrence said 782 currently is used by Mercy Flight, which would essentially trade bays with the A&P training center and relocate into the MVCC program's current space, hangar 221.
"This addresses a lot of the needs that they have," Lawrence said of the MVCC program. "The layout is much better than it is in building 221."
The $2.5 million project is still in the design phase led by the Syracuse-based C&S Companies. Lawrence said the goal is to open the renovated nose dock by the end of the year.
An MVCC spokeswoman deferred comment to the county.
As a one-year certification program, A&P is based on MVCC's Rome campus, though a majority of the instruction takes place at the airport.
The program, according to the college website, is centered on preparing students for careers in aviation maintenance and other related mechanical industries, such as manufacturing equipment and railroad maintenance. It was first established in 2009.
"It supports good maintainers," Lawrence said. "That doesn't just mean it goes into regular airplanes, but the (unmanned aircraft systems) market, as well."
The existing training center has a few classrooms and other space occupied by implements including aircraft tooling, welding areas and power plant labs, Lawrence said. He said moving into nose dock 782 is expected to allow the A&P program to grow with five classrooms and more conducive program space.
Lawrence said the total estimated cost is around $2.5 million. The project will be supported by a $1.5 million grant through the state Department of Transportation's Airport Improvement and Revitalization program. In addition, the county and MVCC have each committed approximately $500,000 in matching funds.
Building 782 is one of five nose docks at Griffiss International Airport. Lawrence said the buildings are likely at least 30 years old, while the most recent renovations to 782 were limited to reconstructing the roof several years ago.
The 28,000-square-foot nose dock is approximately 9,000 square feet larger than building 221. The transition between the A&P training center and Mercy Flight will be one of the last steps in the project, Lawrence said.
"The school provides a service to the county folks here," he said. "I think it's a great program. They've shown that they can put out some god products out of the school."
Contact reporter Greg Mason at 315-792-5074 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Mason).