veteran employment

North State Aviation to hire ENC veterans

November 04, 2015

North State Aviation interviews potential employees from Craven County for plant in Kinston. Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow

by Drew Wilson, Halifax Media

Jesse has a new job.

For 11 years, Jesse Marks was a Marine Corps aviation mechanic on the MV-22 Osprey. On Friday, he accepted a new civilian position working for North State Aviation working on Boeing 737s.

Marks, of Jacksonville, was one of 12 former and current students of the aviation program at the Institute for Aeronautical Technology at Craven Community College to line up to interview for jobs with North State Aviation, a growing aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul business that just expanded its operation to the Global TransPark in Kinston.

North State Aviation is looking to capitalize on the growing number of veterans who are retiring or leaving the military in eastern North Carolina.

Craven Community College is aiming to make sure that qualified veterans get the right certification that enables them to get civilian aviation jobs in the area. Getting veterans jobs in the state is one of the goals of Gov. Pat McCrory’s Military Affairs Commission.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity for these students,” said Kim Zaccardelli, coordinator for the Workforce Development and Military Programs at the college’s Havelock campus. “When North State Aviation contacted us and let us know they were coming to Kinston, we were very excited about this opportunity. Connecting students with jobs finishes our goal of getting them education and put to work in North Carolina.”

Ronald Thomas Jr., from Newport, worked on the MH-60 helicopters in the Navy, but like Marks, found that despite his knowledge of military aviation, he still needed Federal Aviation Administration certification to get a job working on civilian aircraft.

“I was a helicopter guy,” Thomas said. “I really needed to be brought up to date on propeller systems and how those different engines apply to systems for fixed wing aircraft.”

Both men used the FAA’s 8610-2 process to get their airframes and power plant certification cards. An 8610 is an authorization from the FAA to continue toward an airframes and power plant license.

CCC offers a test prep course to prepare students for FAA test.

“With the airframe and power plant test prep, we fill in any of the gaps that they have not received from the military,” said Greg Purvis, director of aviation programs at the college.

Marks said he appreciated the college’s program.

“The college is awesome,” he said. “The program they have gets you ready for everything. Testing really wasn’t a problem. The way I was taught was that ‘This is what you need to know.’

“There is so much information that they pass that by the time you leave this course, you know so much more. Even though I had 10 years of work with military aircraft, there’s still so much more that I learned from the just the course alone.”

Marks eventually became a test prep instructor at New River before he was hired by North State Aviation.

Thomas said his course work cost him $3,200, which he said was less than other schools. Students spend eight hours per week for four months in class, with much of the working being self-paced.

“For the Navy guys getting out, especially E5 and below, getting this license was going to be a task, because for civilian aviation, you can’t do civilian aviation without this license so your experience in the military doesn’t mean anything,” Thomas said. “That’s what you find out when you get out. For me, it’s the ability to work in the field that I did in the Navy, what I trained for and what I signed up for out of high school.”

Zachary Pittman, a civilian from New Bern, started at the college in 2013 and earned an associate’s degree in aviation systems technology. He is working on his bachelor’s degree in aviation management and recently received his FAA license. He just applied with North State Aviation.

“Getting my A and P license and my education through here, it’s almost like you’re on a roster for employment and they can see you and they can find you and reveal all your talents and education and what you’re capable of before even meeting you, so you can get your employment very quickly,” said Pittman, who is currently employed at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point working on CH-53E helicopters.

Charles A. Creech, president of North State Aviation, said the company went from eight employees in 2011 to about 400, some of whom have come from the Craven program.

“We’ve had a relationship with Craven now for about two years,” he said. “We’re really excited about having the opportunity in Kinston when the facility presented itself there. We think it’s going to blossom.”

He said the company expects to hire about 110 more people in the Kinston facility, which includes a 20,000 square-foot hangar with another 20,000 square feet for storage and parts.

“I think the talent here, we have been very fortunate, the A and P school, the opportunities around here for work on airplanes, to get into aviation and know aviation,” Creech said. “All those things are very important to us. It’s easy to get somebody right out of school with a degree, but if they don’t understand the language, it’s hard to communicate. These people understand the language and they know what we’re going to be looking for in terms of the expertise and in terms of their work ethic. North Carolina has some strong work ethic, and that’s what we are going to be looking for.”

Creech said the company targets veterans for employment.

“We’ll always look at a veteran because we know his priority when he gets out is going to be to get that license and to go through the process,” he said. “We love veterans because of their experience and their work ethic.”

Joel S. Marion, vice president of sales for North State, believes students are getting into the aviation field at the right time.

“I think we are headed for a lot of growth,” he said. “There’s a lot of opportunity in the industry as the commercial airlines are beginning to outsource more and more work. The available MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) capacity is getting slimmer and slimmer. We’ve still got American Airlines who is getting ready to start farming more of their work out. It’s got to land somewhere. There’s a lot of growth opportunity for anywhere there is labor. I believe there is an abundance of labor in this area that you guys got here.”