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Polytech Adult Aviation Maintenance Program receives donated turbo propeller engine from Piedmont

Piedmont donates a retired De Havilland Dash-8 engine to Polytech Adult Education's Aviation Maintenance Program
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
Piedmont donates a retired De Havilland Dash-8 engine to Polytech Adult Education's Aviation Maintenance Program

Polytech Adult Education’s Aviation Maintenance Program gets a new addition to their stable of engines Thursday.

The aviation program received a turbo propeller engine from Piedmont Airlines, a regional airline headquartered in Salisbury, Maryland.

Polytech Adult Education assistant director Jeremy McEntire says the newly donated engine is another tool for hands-on classroom learning.

“The students get to be able to see kind of how it works, why it’s different, and how to maintain it," McEntire says. "And then also it helps them get ready for their certification because they’re going to be tested on it by the FAA and that FAA test is no joke.”

Students can also enroll in an apprenticeship program – five two-week courses over two-and-a-half-years – after which they can apply for their Federal Aviation Administration certifications.

18 year-old Abigail Holloway is Summit Aviation’s first aviation maintenance apprentice while getting classroom instruction in Polytech’s apprenticeship program.

“This is going to take me from two and a half years of a course where I’m just in school all the time and then I still have to put in my on-the-job hours to be able to apply for my license, this is going to make it so that in two and a half years I can immediately apply for it," Holloway says.

Polytech has already graduated 29 people from the certification-prep program that began in January.

Director of Aircraft Maintenance at Piedmont Airlines Kurt Yorgey says donating the engine is an investment back into their own airline.

“We don’t fly this equipment anymore, we had lots of spare engines, and so we said, 'well we should be donating to schools,’ and Polytech was a perfect example of where we want to home-grow our employees for the future," Yorgey says.

Yorgey says aviation careers nationwide are suffering, whether it be from 9/11 or the major push to college. He says at Piedmont alone, they are missing a quarter of the staff they need.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.