By Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writer, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/WWxnU1
2/14/2013 07:17:41 PM PST :: A plan to save a threatened aviation mechanics school at Van Nuys Airport inched toward takeoff this week after a tentative go-ahead from the FAA for a lease proposal.
In a letter to airport officials Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said its policies would support a $1-a-year airport lease.
Los Angeles World Airports had asked the FAA for guidance in offering cut-rate rent to the Los Angeles Unified School District, whose mechanics school was imperiled by budget cuts and rising airport leases.
The current lease for its North Valley Occupational Center hangar expires at the end of June.
"We told LAWA their conceptual lease with the LAUSD appears to be consistent with our revenue use policy," said Ian Gregor, a Los Angeles spokesman for the FAA.
Airport officials declined to comment Thursday until they had time to review the FAA letter.
For months, elected officials and airport businesses have sought to save the 40-year-old airframe and powerplant program - the only one in the nation open to high school students.
The 3-acre campus offers low-cost training to 100 students for a field crying out for mechanics.
Officials said the buck-a-year lease between L.A airports and schools was key to saving the renowned school, which costs $500,000 a year to run.
They said its approval depended upon the FAA, which oversees airport uses.
This week, newly elected Rep. Tony Cardenas, a Valley Democrat, joined Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, in asking the FAA to approve the deal.
"The Aviation Center's aircraft mechanics program is one of the top-ranked programs in the nation for high school and adult students" seeking good-paying jobs in aviation and aerospace, Sherman said in a statement.
In a letter earlier this month to the FAA, airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey asked if its guidelines would grant nearly free rent for the mechanics school.
Yes, the FAA replied Wednesday, as long as it benefits the airport and civil aviation. And as long as it doesn't mean higher rents to other airport tenants as a result.
The federal agency also requested a copy of the proposed lease.
"Airport operators do not need FAA approval prior to signing leases," Gregor said. "It's up to an airport operator to ensure leases comply with all FAA regulations and policies."