2007 Apr.- Wis. College develops general aviation training

    Pewaukee, Wis.—Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) in Waukesha, Wis., recently spearheaded an initiative to develop general aviation security training. WCTC applied for, and received a $750,000 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant to develop security training to prevent criminal and terrorist use of general aviation facilities and aircraft.

Wis. College develops general aviation training with Homeland Security grant; spearheads initiative to up airport security; 
Preventing criminal use of aircraft and facilities
    The free training – available in July to airport stakeholders and their local emergency response providers – will be delivered via two methods: online and face-to-face. As part of the training, general aviation airports develop cost-effective security plans involving local police and fire departments, according to Jim Kerr, a 33-year veteran of airport management. Kerr spent 23 years at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee as deputy director and chief operating officer. Now retired, he’s leading development of the “General Aviation Security Training” –courses delivering cost-effective security solutions to even the smallest general aviation operation. The courses will be offered at WCTC and several on-site locations across the country. The online courses will be offered via WCTC.

The goal is two-pronged: to prevent the criminal use of general aviation aircraft and facilities and to enable first responders to respond safely and effectively to incidents involving general aviation.

The free training is great for general aviation, said Kerr, because finding the resources to fund security training and/or technologies isn’t easy for small aviation airports. The only categories not included under the general aviation umbrella are airports for military aircraft or commercial airlines.

Developed with U.S. Department of Homeland Security funds

    The General Aviation Security Training was developed with help from a $750,000 DHS grant; the Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS); general aviation associations and organizations; aviation and emergency-response content experts; and WCTC.

Training is performance-based; relies on experts

    To develop the training, WCTC partnered with WIDS, a non-profit organization based in Waunakee, Wis., offering software for the design of performance-based training and consulting services. WIDS was used to facilitate the development process and provide a common design and framework. Aviation, law enforcement and fire experts were also called in, with Kerr as project manager, to ensure curriculum content accuracy.

WIDS Consultant George Skerritt helped facilitate the collaboration process and hone the new curriculum into performance-based training. He worked to establish competencies, performance standards, learning activities and assessment tasks for both online and traditional delivery.

“One of the features of all four courses is the airport watch program,” said Skerritt. “We want airport personnel to develop and implement what is much the same as a neighborhood watch program. We are also trying to enhance the interaction of general aviation airports with their local fire and police organizations so that responses can be swift and well-coordinated.”

“General aviation is very diverse and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work,” added Kerr of the training. This is because general aviation can encompass small airports with turf runways on up to large facilities with cargo jets, single-engine planes and corporate aircraft.

Involving local emergency responders

 “General aviation airports are largely left to manage their own affairs in terms of security,” said Kerr. “They aren’t regulated like airline airports. The training is designed to train general aviation stakeholders such as pilots, mechanics, airport operators and airport businesses,” he said. Airline airports have their own emergency responders, but general aviation airports do not. As such, general aviation, according to Kerr, depends on local emergency responders.

Thus, the new security training targets both local emergency responders and airport stakeholders. “The training enhances learning by requiring stakeholders to apply knowledge and skills to scenarios,” says Kerr. “Stakeholders apply skills and come away with a security plan. Emergency responders exit training with an airport familiarization training plan.”

After completing training, police and fire departments can then work with their local airports to train their personnel, familiarizing them with airport layout, security processes and response plans.

A focus on people

“The first line of defense at any airport is your people,” said Kerr. “If the people side isn’t working, even high-tech security technologies have no value. Much of our training focuses on the people and cost-appropriate solutions.”

General Aviation Security Training will be available online, or face-to-face at the WCTC campus and several on-site locations across the country. For detailed training information, call 262-691-5075 or visit www.wctc.edu/aviation. Courses are free for as long as grant funds last. To discover more about WIDS visit www.wids.org