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Black graduation cap with Hawaiian Airlines plane and maintenance truck on it
The graduation cap of Alvin Lacsina, a recent Honolulu CC AERO program graduate (Photo credit: Alvin Lacsina)

Some of the latest beneficiaries of an innovative partnership to train and recruit much needed aviation mechanics took to the stage at Honolulu Community College’s commencement ceremonies in May to receive their certificates.

Man flashing shaka in front of a Hawaiian Airlines plane
Martin Fruean

Since Hawaiian Airlines began partnering with Honolulu CC and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to launch a new apprenticeship program to train and recruit aviation mechanics in 2016, hundreds of Honolulu CC Aeronautics Maintenance Technology (AERO) students have transitioned into well-paying aviation jobs, and Hawaiian Airlines has hired 36 program participants to help mālama (care for) its fleet.

“We are blown away and grateful for this partnership,” said Honolulu CC Chancellor Karen Lee. “I’ve been contacted by a couple of other schools on the mainland who’ve asked how this partnership came about because they also see it as a need within their communities.”

Martin Fruean was one of the first students to be accepted into Hawaiian Airlines’ Aircraft Mechanic Apprenticeship Program. He was also one of the first seven students to graduate from the program in 2017.

“I feel accomplished. I’m happy where I’m at. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere but Hawaiian,” Fruean said.

Paid apprentices

Hawaiian Airlines has invested in career pipeline programs and integrated training opportunities to meet the industry’s growing need for skilled mechanics. In August 2022, it announced another innovative collaboration with Honolulu CC to graduate more local students as highly skilled aviation maintenance technicians. Now Hawaiian Airlines instructors teach classes at Honolulu CC, helping to double AERO’s enrollment to 100 students by fall 2023.

Apprentices take Honolulu CC courses during the day and hold a part-time shift at Hawaiian Airlines’ aircraft maintenance hangar, where they get paid as mechanics performing repair and preventative maintenance.

“A lot of these students are here [at Honolulu CC] because of current mechanics at Hawaiian Airlines who are telling them how great it is to be over there and what a great company it is to work for,” added Hawaiian Airlines AERO Instructor Jason Anderson. “They’re going from knowing nothing about an airplane to then knowing the checklist and startup procedures for each one of these aircraft—that’s pretty impressive stuff.”

Of the AERO cohort that graduated in May, 18 students completed the course; six of them will continue their apprenticeship at Hawaiian Airlines until they receive their Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Power Plant Maintenance certification and begin new-hire mechanic training this summer.

For more see Hawaiian Airlines Manaʻo.

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