Students in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at West Virginia University had the unique opportunity to tour a US Airways and American Airlines aircraft overhaul facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Most visits to these sites were restricted after September 11, 2001,” said Peter Gall, an aerospace engineer at WVU who planned the trip. “Our visit was made possible by WVU alumnus Norm White, a supervising engineer at the facility.”

Gall took 26 students from his flight vehicle design capstone course. Students were given freedom to explore the facilities and an Airbus A319 being overhauled.

“The experience of walking in, around and all over the aircraft allowed us to make the connection between our studies and the real world,” said Sam Ayers, a senior aerospace engineering major from Canandaigua, New York. “It is not often that we are able to get hands-on experience like this with such an amazing aircraft.”

The facility is responsible for the regular maintenance and major overhauls of aircraft for the airlines. Engineers and mechanics were on-hand to discuss the process.

“It was a great way for students to get perspectives from both the people who design and maintain these aircrafts,” Gall said. “Everything we talk about in class was experienced first-hand on this trip.”

A US Airways pilot for 18 years, Gall captained many aircraft, including the Airbus A319 the students examined. Gall taught each student how to power the aircraft and how the pilot performs takeoff and landings.

“Being able to travel to an airline maintenance facility and view all off the topics that we cover in class was an experience many do not get,” said Christ Nestor, a senior aerospace engineering major from Fairmont, West Virginia. “Opportunities such as this have reaffirmed my decision to study aerospace engineering.”



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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