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RCBI aims to launch Huntington into the aerospace industry

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RCBI aims to launch Huntington into the aerospace industry

The RCBI is working toward expanding aircraft facilities in Huntington as well as collaborating to create flight school through Marshall.

The RCBI is working toward expanding aircraft facilities in Huntington as well as collaborating to create flight school through Marshall.

Derek Gilbert

The RCBI is working toward expanding aircraft facilities in Huntington as well as collaborating to create flight school through Marshall.

Derek Gilbert

Derek Gilbert

The RCBI is working toward expanding aircraft facilities in Huntington as well as collaborating to create flight school through Marshall.

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The Robert C. Byrd Institute is making progress toward its goal of helping to establish an aircraft maintenance facility at Tri-State Airport, and ground has been broken on a Federal Aviation Administration certified flight school at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

Mike Friel, public information specialist for the Robert C. Byrd Institute, said these developments are all a part in helping to expand Huntington’s presence in the aerospace industry.

“It’s an industry here in West Virginia that has shown real growth over the last decade or so,” Friel said. “We think there is plenty of opportunity for further expansion in north-central West Virginia and here in the tri-state region.”

With the building process having begun on Marshall University’s flight school, the school is aiming to run maintenance courses through the program as soon as the fall semester in 2019, until the school can achieve its certification as a pilot school.

Friel said he thinks one of the most remarkable parts about the efforts to increase Huntington’s presence in the aerospace industry is how many partners the institute has been able to get on board with expanding the industry with them, citing Appalachian Power and Marshall as having key roles in getting the process to where it is at now.

Marty Spears, associate director of public information and special programs for RCBI, said that while aerospace has certainly been a primary focus for RCBI, one of the technical school’s ultimate goals is to help the economy in the tri-state region.

“The idea that we’re focusing this effort on aligning with local businesses who are major players in the aerospace industry is another good example of how we’re working with quality manufacturers across the area,” Spears said. “We’re trying to expand their business opportunities and ultimately expand the economy.”

Friel said the institute has been seeking to add diversity to the economy, and the area is already starting to be able to reap some rewards.

“You’d be surprised at the existing companies here in the tri-state area who are already supplying parts to the aerospace industry,” Friel said. “This effort will allow us to help them expand their markets and allow us to identify companies with the capabilities of becoming aerospace providers.”

Friel also said Huntington’s accessibility to the rest of the country, as well as its easily-affordable energy, makes it a prime contender in attracting new businesses moving forward and helping to achieve one of RCBI’s main goals of creating jobs for the area.

Derek Gilbert can be contacted at [email protected]

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