October 29, 2010

Boeing official to keynote aviation banquet

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In looking to the future, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s aviation programs will also reflect on the past during the 2010 “Aviation in the Future” banquet next week.

The banquet is Friday, Nov. 5, and coincides with the aviation program’s 16th annual career fair earlier in the day. The career fair is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Student Center Ballrooms A, B, and C. The banquet doors open at 6:30 p.m. in Ballroom D, with a reception that starts at 5:30 p.m.

Tom S. Buyers, the regional director of business strategy and marketing for The Boeing Company, is the keynote speaker. Buyers attended SIUC from 1982 to 1986, earning an associate degree in aviation maintenance technology in 1984 and a bachelor’s degree in aviation management in 1986, the same year he earned his private pilot’s license.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the career fair and banquet. For more information, contact David A. NewMyer at 618/453-8898.

The event will focus on the 50th anniversary of SIUC aviation. In December 1960, the University purchased Midwestern Aero Services, the fixed base operator at Southern Illinois Airport, and renamed it “Air Institute and Service.” Initially a service unit of the University that also offered flight classes, that unit evolved over five decades to become part of one of the nation’s leading aviation programs. In 1965, the Aviation Maintenance Technologies degree program began offering classes as the first formal aviation degree program offered by the University. The Department of Aviation Management and Flight and Department of Aviation Technologies together have 434 students majoring in aviation flight, aviation management, and aviation technologies, or working to earn a Master of Public Administration in Aviation Administration degree.

The banquet will feature a collection of photos of different eras in the University’s aviation history, and a 14-minute DVD that celebrates SIUC’s aviation history will also premiere, said David A. NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight.

Buyers will discuss Boeing’s latest and newest airplane -- the 787. He will also speak a little on the current market outlook for the airline industry. Buyers’ wife, Donna, and his brother, John, a 1978 SIUC graduate in aviation technologies and 777 captain with FedEx, will also attend the banquet.

“It is a great honor to be able to speak at SIUC’s 50th anniversary of their aviation programs, especially since I spent four years getting a valuable education which launched me into the airline/aerospace industry,” Buyers said. “ I have now been privileged to work in this exciting industry for 24 years in which the last five at Boeing Commercial Airlines have been the most exciting. I love this industry and could not imagine myself working in another.”

NewMyer estimates there are roughly 10,000 graduates of SIUC’s aviation programs.

In addition to the 50th anniversary, the event will also recognize different groups of alumni and retirees, NewMyer said. Southern Illinois Airport is celebrating its 60th anniversary, while the aviation technology program is celebrating its 45th anniversary. NewMyer taught the first aviation content class of the master’s in aviation administration program when it began 20 years ago in fall 1990. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Air Illinois, which started in April 1970 and operated for 17 years.

But while celebrating the accomplishments of the past, NewMyer said Buyers “will allow us to look forward” with updates on the company’s Boeing 787 “Dreamliner,” along with other products, including the newest 747 version, the 747-8

Buyers spent time in his early career working as an airframe and powerplant mechanic at Delta Airlines in Atlanta, working on a variety of planes including DC-8’s, 727’s, L-1011, MD-90’s, 737’s, 757’s, and 767’s. He also worked with other airlines including JetBlue and American Trans Air; aerospace suppliers, General Electric and Goodrich; and airframer Fairchild Dornier, where he was involved in creating operational efficiencies in their technical operations divisions, Buyers said.

“It will be nice to return to my ‘roots’ so to speak where I got my start in aviation and see many old friends, alumni, and faculty to share stories of old and new,” Buyers said.

His first job at the University as a student worker was at the Air Institute and Service at the airport, fueling and parking airplanes, even fueling and working on SIUC’s DC-3s climbing on the wing and adding, oil as among his entry level jobs.

There are now about 2 million aviation-related jobs in the United States. But NewMyer sees a rebound after a tough two years in the industry caused by to a reduction in some areas of aviation.

“While there have been jobs they haven’t been as plentiful as the four or five years before that,” he said.

A recent news release from Boeing that cites the company’s Current Market Outlook indicates the worldwide commercial aviation industry will need an average of 23,300 new pilots and 30,000 new maintenance personnel annually from 2010 to 2029.

Aviation students will receive 15 scholarships totaling approximately $32,500 at the banquet.

Tickets are $30 for adults and non-students, and $15 for SIUC students. Tickets are available online athttp://ams.aviation.siuc.edu/. Tickets are also available by calling SIUC’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight at 618/453-8898, or at the aviation flight dispatch counter at Southern Illinois Airport, between Carbondale and Murphysboro.

The career fair earlier in the day will attract between 25 and 30 companies, including regional airlines, NewMyer said. Career fair participants include The Boeing Company, UPS Airlines, Great Lakes Airlines, Mesaba Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, AirTran Airways, Jet International, Trans States Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Wood Dale-based AAR Corp., Ricondo and Associates aviation consultants, the Air Line Pilots Association, and the National Business Aviation Association.

The career fair is for more than students majoring in aviation-related programs, NewMyer said. The career fair is also attractive to students majoring in business, communication, and engineering-related fields.