Boeing gives $750,000 to Saskatoon school for aircraft maintenance

Funding will help Saskatchewan Aviation Learning Centre expand its program.

SASKATOON — Boeing, the international aviation and aerospace company, has provided another $750,000 in funding for the Saskatchewan Aviation Learning Centre.

Reil Bellegarde, president of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, says the company’s contributions began about five years ago with a $1 million donation.

It was followed by $750,000 for continuing equipment purchasing to grow the two-year diploma program in aircraft maintenance.

Bellegarde says the most recent funds will help the program move ahead into phase two of expansion.

Since the program began in 2009, 16 students have graduated and gone on to work in the industry.

Currently 21 students split between first and second year are enrolled in the program, with another 12 expected to graduate next June.

For program head Brian Wilkinson, the ongoing contributions from Boeing means his program can continue to teach on the leading edge of the industry.

“Without industry partners there wasn’t enough funding to get this (program) going. Companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin are the reason we’re here,” Wilkinson said, adding the government of Saskatchewan has also donated older aircraft to the program.

Wilkinson said aircrafts make up one large expense, but another is the equipment and tools to teach maintenance on aircraft engines.

“It’s one thing to have the aircraft, it’s another to have the equipment to have the maintenance on them,” he said. “When we look into the future I can tell you we will need updated aircrafts with newer avionics as newer engines are being built.”

© 2013 The Canadian Press