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News > American Eurocopter donates aircraft for local workforce development

American Eurocopter donates aircraft for local workforce development

June 1, 2007

Aerospace manufacturing is a fast-growing industry in north Mississippi, and a donation by American Eurocopter will provide hands-on opportunities for students training to work in the field. The helicopter manufacturer delivered a Eurocopter BK117 to East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) on Tuesday.  
“American Eurocopter has been working with EMCC to give potential employees the knowledge and skills they need,” remarks Sammy Pence, American Eurocopter’s Vice President for Commercial Programs and Programs Coordination. “We’ve developed several courses together. Now this helicopter will give students a tool for hands-on training.” 
“American Eurocopter is eager to partner with the college for local workforce development and is looking forward to positive results from this investment,” says Marc Paganini, company CEO.  
The BK117 is the predecessor of the Eurocopter EC145, the most successful light twin helicopter in the air medical market. The EC145 is the civil version of the UH-72A Alpha, the U.S. Army’s newest light utility helicopter, which is being produced by American Eurocopter at its Columbus plant.  
The aircraft will benefit EMCC’s Industrial Management Technology program, which teaches skills such as sheet metal fabrication, riveting, avionics installation, and building wiring harnesses. These abilities will be in demand by American Eurocopter as well as Aurora Flight Sciences, Stark Aviation and other aerospace companies in the area. 
“We’re pleased and excited about the opportunity to offer training for a world class company like American Eurocopter,” states Mike McCollough, Instructor of Industrial Maintenance Technology at EMCC. “Thanks to their donation we are looking forward to a great school year.” 
Currently there are 12 students in the 2-year A.A. degree program, all residents of Columbus, Starkville and West Point. McCullough expects it will soon increase to its capacity of 25.

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