New MU/MCTC aviation program influences company’s decision to expand to Tri-State

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 17, 2021

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Thoroughbred Aviation, central Kentucky’s largest aviation maintenance and avionics provider, is expanding operations with the opening of a facility at Huntington Tri-State Airport, Joe Otte, the company’s vice president, announced.

Thoroughbred officials said the soon-to-launch Marshall University/Mountwest Community & Technical College Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program influenced the company’s decision to locate repair operations in West Virginia.

“Thoroughbred is excited to be opening a new aviation maintenance facility in Huntington beginning Aug. 1. One of the primary reasons we selected Tri-State is Marshall University’s aviation programs for both future pilots and maintenance technicians. We look forward to partnering with these programs to mentor young aviation professionals and create future job opportunities in the region,” Otte said.

“Our aviation academic programs are innovative catalysts for economic development, as is evidenced by the announcement by Thoroughbred Aviation,” said Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert, president of Marshall University. “We are pleased to welcome them to the Tri-State and are eager to partner on new initiatives.”

Thoroughbred employs more than 35 technicians at facilities in Berea, Big Sandy and Lexington, Ky., where it services fixed wing and rotor aircraft, including Beech, Cessna and Cirrus as well as Airbus and Bell. The company’s avionics division supports all major brands of autopilot and mission equipment, including Garmin, Aspen, Avidyne, Churchill Navigation, Teledyne FLIR and Technisonic.

The new Huntington location will provide maintenance for general aviation and corporate aircraft as well as helicopter maintenance, structures, avionics and on-call maintenance for commercial airlines.

“We are excited to welcome Thoroughbred Aviation to Huntington Tri-State Airport,” said Dave Lieving, president and CEO of Huntington Area Development Council and president of Tri-State Airport Authority. “This is a natural fit because the AMT will be located adjacent to Thoroughbred’s operations, providing an excellent opportunity for collaboration that will ultimately complement both entities. This is just the beginning of a partnership that will help build the region’s aviation sector, bringing good jobs to the Huntington area.”

With Thoroughbred next door to the school, students will have the opportunity to job shadow and experience a professional aviation environment firsthand, said Jim Smith, interim director of the AMT program.

The Marshall/Mountwest AMT program’s inaugural class is scheduled to begin in January 2022. Administered by Marshall’s Robert C. Byrd Institute, the program is a branch of the university’s Division of Aviation, which also includes the Bill Noe Flight School at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va., which will launch this August.