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Boeing invests $17 million in Sask. aviation program

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International aircraft giant Boeing has made a multi-million dollar commitment to the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) to help address shortages in the aviation industry.

The company is putting $17 million towards expanding SIIT’s Aviation Learning Centre.

SIIT president and CEO Riel Bellegarde said the funding will help increase training of aircraft maintenance engineers (AME).

“It’s actually going to double the size of our Aviation Learning Centre,” Bellegarde told media on Wednesday.

“It’s a significant investment and allows us to expand curriculum, bring in innovation, new technology because that’s the future of aviation.”

Pierre Ruel, Boeing Canada’s interim managing director, said as the aviation industry continues to grow, so does the shortage in the AME workforce.

“The number of commercial airplanes that are going to be flying around the world in 20 years from now will be doubled,” he said.

“That’s only the airplane, so we need people to build them, maintain them, and operate them.”

Heather Gardiner-Roy graduated from the aircraft maintenance engineering program in 2021.

“I’m hopeful today inspires fellow Indigenous men and women to consider a career in the aviation industry,” she said.

“I can guarantee you that every day on the job is not the same if you crave that kind of excitement in your life.”

Shelby Savoie graduated from the program in 2019, and now works with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to maintain water bombers.

“Very exciting career,” she said.

Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Immigration and Career Training, said the program is key in maintaining the province’s forest fighting fleet.

“If we didn’t have the maintainers trained here in Saskatchewan, it would be a challenge to actually maintain our 10 aircraft fleet for forest fighting,” he said.

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