Bevan-Rabell hosts avionics technology students

Tom Jecha, a navigation-communications technician at Bevan-Rabell, talks to a visiting technology class from WATC. (Jan. 24, 2014)
Tom Jecha, a navigation-communications technician at Bevan-Rabell, talks to a visiting technology class from WATC. (Jan. 24, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Students in the avionics technology program at the National Center for Aviation Training visited Bevan-Rabell at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport on Friday to learn more about the field.

The visit will help give them insight into avionics technology as it relates to general aviation, said Sarah Irick, their instructor.

The students are currently enrolled in an Aircraft Electrical Communication and Navigation Systems class. The avionics program is offered by the Wichita Area Technical College.

“We are hoping to learn more about what bench technicians do on a daily basis, learn more about the install (and) modification procedures performed by Bevan-Rabell, and just soak in as much information as they are willing to offer,” Irick said of the visit.

Tom Jecha, an avionics technician who works on navigation and communication equipment, advised students to get to know the devices they will encounter.

“If you don’t know how this autopilot or radio works in the airplane, go find out,” Jecha said. “It’s helpful to understand overall systems.”

When it comes to working with new and old equipment, there are always new things to learn, he said.

Cody Denning, 34, signed up for the program because he’s always had a fascination with airplanes.

“It’s like working on cars, just more exciting,” Denning said.

He wanted to learn more about electronics as it relates to aircraft. The program helped Denning land a job as a radio and electronics installer at Cessna Aircraft.

He was one of three students in the program hired by Cessna. Denning began his new job this month.

Karin Romaine, who was laid off as a sheet metal mechanic at Cessna, eventually wants to be an avionics bench mechanic, trouble-shooting and repairing components.

“It’s a really good program,” she said.

Bevan-Rabell repairs and installs global positioning systems, transponders, navigation and communication equipment, autopilots, instruments and other components. It also handles some airframe and engine maintenance.

Steve Gooch showed students how he designs custom panels of an airplane with input from the pilot.

“You wind up with a nice, modern panel,” Gooch told them.

The students have a good time touring, Irick said. “They just really enjoy it.”

The tours “give them more of an opportunity to see all the different areas they could work in,” she said.

In the program, students learn about basic electronics, theories, concepts, technical math, avionics, systems, wiring diagrams and schematics and other areas of study, Irick said.

They currently are building AM/FM radios in the lab. They will also build a game buzzer and a multimeter, she said.

It’s a one-year program but students can go on to earn an associate degree.

Classes start each August. This fall, the avionics program will also offer online courses.