PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Leonardo Helicopters has opened an $80 million helicopter training academy at their existing campus in Northeast Philadelphia.

They began welcoming customers in April.

“This is a state-of-the-art facility for the aviation industry, and it’s right here in Northeast Philadelphia,” said Michael Cooper, Manager of External Relations and Communications at Leonardo.

Leonardo has been in Philadelphia since 1980, adjoining Northeast Philadelphia Airport. Their site houses production, support and administrative functions for the United States.

“Anyone who flies a Leonardo helicopter or any helicopter for that matter not only needs to train and certify on that type of aircraft, but they need recurrent training to maintain credentials,” Cooper explained.

The academy is modeled after Leonardo’s facility in Sesto Calende, Italy.

“This is a global company that not only believes in this region, but is really putting the investment in,” Cooper said.

Cooper gave Action News a tour.

He brought us into one spacious room, where experienced technicians come to learn to maintain and repair Leonardo’s specific helicopters.

“We have the rotor here. We have landing gear here. We have engine rebuild here,” Cooper indicated, pointing to the pieces of equipment.

There are ten classrooms for ground school.

“Using these large screens…our instructors can provide real direct training on all of our complicated aircraft parts,” Cooper demonstrated.

Full flight motion simulators are an environmentally conscious way to give pilots realistic experiences missions, ranging from EMS and passenger transport to challenging weather conditions.

“These simulators are sophisticated enough that they can simulate every type of condition that a pilot may or may not face in their entire career,” Cooper said.

Pilots could spend hours in the simulators. When the flight is over, instructors will go through the flights with them to talk about what they did well and what needs improvement.

Afterwards, pilots can go to a quiet space with reclining chairs to reflect, meditate and decompress.

With customers all over the world, the academy will draw visitors to the city, with 1,000 students expected annually, staying an average for three weeks.

“When students are in their off time they like to explore the city,” Cooper said.

“We’re very proud Philadelphians here,” he added.

Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.

This time last year, thousands of people in Northeast Tennessee were filing for unemployment every week.

Today, hundreds of people in Northeast Tennessee are filing for unemployment every week, and although that marks a dramatic decrease, residents are still seeking jobless benefits at a rate a few times higher than before the pandemic.

That’s happening statewide, too.

“Our spike in the highest number of initial claims was April 4 of 2020, when statewide we had over 116,000 people file for unemployment during that one week,” said Chris Cannon, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“Fast forward a year later, obviously the situation is much different and the numbers are much lower, but they’re still high and higher than they were.”

What do the numbers say?

For the week ending April 3, 770 people in the eight-county region of Northeast Tennessee filed for unemployment benefits, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Labor.

During the week ending April 4, 2020, that figure was 6,521, which is still the region’s highest number of jobless claims filed in a single week since the start of the pandemic.

For comparison, 132 people filed for unemployment during the week of March 14, 2020 — before the economic effects of the outbreak started showing up in those numbers.

With the exception of a brief bump in January, weekly unemployment claims have consistently stayed below 1,000 filings in Northeast Tennessee since August. At the same time, new weekly unemployment filings have not dipped below 300 since last March.

Of the approximately 60,000 unemployment filings made in Northeast Tennessee since the week ending March 21, 2020, the highest number (20,000) have come from Sullivan County, which is the most populous county in the region.

Washington County has clocked the second most at 15,000, and Greene County stands at third with nearly 10,000 claims filed.

Statewide, 10,847 residents filed new claims last week, which is a significant drop from the high of 116,141 claims filed during the week of April 4, 2020. But, like Northeast Tennessee, the most recent statewide numbers are still at least a few times higher than they were during the week ending March 14, when 2,702 residents filed for unemployment.

At large, Tennesseans have filed more than one million unemployment claims since March 15.

Made with Flourish

Why are the numbers still high?

Cannon said certain sectors of the economy have been particularly gutted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“There are many businesses out there that are running at pre-pandemic levels or even better,” he said, “but there are still those sectors — the entertainment industry, the leisure and hospitality industry — those sectors are still very hard-hit.”

In December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employment in the leisure and hospitality sector dropped by 498,000 nationwide. Three quarters of that decrease came from job losses among food service and drinking establishments.

The outlook for those sectors has, however, improved since December. In March, the leisure and hospitality sector gained 280,000 jobs,