A popular vocational center at Van Nuys Airport that has trained thousands of aviation mechanics during its 40-year history faces closure or relocation next year if the Los Angeles Unified School District can no longer afford to keep the facility open.
Educators, students, national organizations and business owners at the airport say the loss of the program would be a blow to those seeking technical careers in the aviation industry, which is already suffering a shortage of qualified entry-level mechanics.
"Many businesses hire our graduates, from small engine shops to major aerospace firms," said Michael Phillips, a senior instructor at the school. "It would be devastating to our program if we had to close or move."
The North Valley Occupational Center-Aviation Center is housed off Hayvenhurst Avenue in a hangar with adjoining workshops and classrooms. The facility is filled with more than a dozen aircraft, including helicopters and a U.S. Air Force T-33 jet trainer from the 1950s.