Canadore Tech Talk – Technology Makes Skies the Limit
Mar 10, 2022 | Denis Dubois and Cindy Males
Built in 2002, the Canadore College Aviation Campus is located next to North Bay’s Jack Garland Airport runways. The campus boasts a 17,000 square foot hangar filled with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, the largest number of any college in Ontario. There is also more than 40,000 square feet of premium aviation lab training space. The high-tech facility produces highly trained technicians in the fields of aircraft maintenance, structures, repair and avionics.
Canadore’s Aviation Fundamentals program teaches basic industry techniques and standard practices, and allows students to strengthen math, science and technical skills, and acquire prerequisites to enroll in on the aviation programs.
The aircraft maintenance program trains students in repair and maintenance of aircraft and includes an introduction to avionics and structural repair. Students wishing to expand on their training in either of these specialties can continue their studies in these specialized programs.
The avionics lab provides students with an opportunity to learn unique skills using high-tech tools such as the “buddy panel” -- a simulated instrument panel which allows students to build a functioning instrument panel as well as maintain and troubleshoot the highly sophisticated panels found inside the cockpit.
“I like the avionics side of the program, especially wiring the buddy panel -- that’s the best part,” says Jack Toms, a third-year aircraft maintenance and avionics student. “It feels good to have it done, when it works, and it’s organized.”
The endless amount of wires in an aircraft must be individually labeled for easy identification during a build. It is commonplace in the industry to start an instrument panel and have someone else continue the work or finish it. A well-documented and clean installation allows this to be completed without mistakes, and helps identify component issues during a repair.
The highly complex systems of an aircraft, including its GPS (global positioning system) and its altimeter (which reports the craft’s height above ground), are critical to the safety of the pilot and the plane. The tools required to successfully build and maintain such a sensitive cluster of equipment is precisely what students learn.
The technology goes far beyond the electronics. The material used to fabricate aircraft must be strong yet light enough to take flight. Aluminum, fibreglass, Kevlar, and carbon fibre are among the materials students learn to work with in creating small panels, sections of floors, and a miniaturized wing.
“Some of the advanced inspection techniques introduced to our students include liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, eddy current and ultrasonic inspection,” says Brett Chadwick, Coordinator/Faculty at the Aviation Campus. “All of which are used to detect cracks and other defects before failure occurs.”
To be fully licensed as an aircraft maintenance or avionics technician a student requires 48 months of experience. Transport Canada credits Canadore’s programs with 18 months toward this license. Following graduation, a Canadore student only requires 30 additional months of apprenticeship to be fully licensed.