Avionics Professor Among First to Be Certified

Published 04.25.2006

Faculty & Staff

With the lighted avionics panel as a background, Thomas D, Inman sits in the most recent acquisition by the Lumley Aviation Center%3A a 1981 Beech BE-58P Baron.An associate professor of avionics at Pennsylvania College of Technology recently became one of the nation's first certified Aircraft Electronics Technicians while attending the Aircraft Electronics Association's International Convention and Trade Show in Palm Springs, Calif.

Thomas D. Inman attended the conference in support of the National Center for Aircraft Technician Training, which set up a testing facility to give AET certification exams. NCATT wished to test its new LaserGrade examination system with attendees at the convention before the test is released nationwide June 1.

Candidates for the certification were allowed to test for a low cost while NCATT personnel monitored the system for defects, he explained.

"I was one of the first people to take the exam, which still had a few bugs. One bug was the calculator function was disabled, forcing me to do math longhand," Inman said. "While testing, an accident caused a citywide power outage. I was able to continue the test, because I was using a laptop; however, it was too dark in the exhibit hall for me to see my notes. I answered some of the math-based questions using estimation and outright guessing.

"In spite of this, I was able to pass, and become one of the first 30 NCATT-certified AETs in the world."

NCATT has set up a system similar to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence in the automotive-repair profession. The AET is the first of (and prerequisite for) approximately 70 certifications and endorsements for avionics technicians. Certification for aviation navigation, communication and systems integration will become available before the end of this year.

The national center will start accrediting schools later this year, Inman said, and Penn College is among the first in line for NCATT accreditation.

Penn College is among five colleges that received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant in May 2005 to develop standards, curriculum and certification for aircraft electronics technicians. Inman serves as the media chair for NCATT and is responsible for the organization's Web site. He also served as a subject-matter expert during the development of the AET standards.

For more information about avionics and other academic majors offered by the college's School of Transportation Technology, call (570) 327-4516, send e-mail or visit online .