Safety in the sky
Buffalo Airways wants to expand training

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( Jun 07/00) - When it comes to training related to the North's aviation industry, the sky's the limit.

Buffalo Airways Ltd. president Joe McBryan started the NWT's first aircraft maintenance engineering school last year at its Yellowknife base.

"We've identified 24 areas (other than aircraft maintenance engineering) we can train in."

Welding, refuelling, upholstering, dispatching, de-icing and loading are just a few areas where Mc-Bryan believes Buffalo can train Northerners to meet the needs of Northern aviation companies.

"These people are needed to service airplanes that fly in and out of Northern communities here everyday," McBryan said.

"These are (occupations) that have been identified by the industry across the NWT."

He also pointed out that aircraft companies need technical librarians to keep records.

"Every nut and bolt on an aircraft has a life on it. We want to teach a certified (records) course," he said.

"We contacted companies and asked them what they needed. We have the capability and the capacity to train."

Buffalo is working with government to have the courses, which will run from three months to a year, certified or apprenticed.

The company also hopes to make presentations in various communities about course opportunities.

McBryan said the aircraft maintenance engineering school, which employs seven people, is hoping to take 12 first-year students in September. Twelve additional students will be back to take their second and final year of the maintenance course.

"We started with 12 students last year and eight of them are working in Yellowknife," McBryan said. Four went to the Yukon.

"Airplanes are a way of life up North and there was nowhere to train local Northern people."

McBryan said there is no problem as far as student placement is concerned.

In fact, the school could have "put 30 to 35 students to work in the NWT," he said.

The only problem could be finding applicants with the necessary math and science qualifications to gain admittance to the course, he said.