Wednesday, October 18th, 2023
E-commerce giant Amazon has joined widespread efforts to grow the aviation maintenance workforce pipeline. It has partnered with a recently launched Part 147 school in Lakeland, Florida to offer a career training program for workers interested in pursuing a new career path in MRO.
The partnership is part of Amazon’s Career Choice program, which enables its employees to learn new skills to launch career paths internally or in other industries. The program includes a vertical called Pathways, in which Amazon covers tuition costs to help employees earn certifications in areas such as technology, health care, transportation, mechanical and industrial systems, and business and administration systems.
Through Amazon’s Aircraft Maintenance Technician pathway, employees will train for FAA airframe and powerplant (A&P) certification at International AeroTech Academy, near Amazon’s air hub at Lakeland Linder International Airport. The hub, which opened in July 2020, employs more than 1,000 workers.
“The expansion of our skills training pathways to include aviation programs like the one with International AeroTech Academy is just one way we are continuing to invest in our team’s education and career aspirations, and help them move into in-demand technical jobs in the communities we operate,” says Tammy Thieman, global director of Career Choice at Amazon.
According to Steven Markhoff, president and CEO of International AeroTech Academy, Amazon approached the school in spring of 2023 as part of its efforts to establish the program in the area. The school launched a special night class for the program, which began classes on Oct. 2. Markhoff says 22 Amazon employees are currently enrolled in the night class and several have enrolled in the school’s latest day class, which began Sept. 11. The day class takes between 17-18 months to complete and the evening class will be 22 months long. At the end of the class, students will be eligible to test for A&P certifications.
“The response from Amazon employees in the area has been unbelievable. We have a long wait list of Amazon employees that are signing up now for our next class,” says Markhoff, noting that the school plans to run three evening classes per year.
Although Amazon Air’s air carrier partners maintain and operate its cargo aircraft, there is no fine print requiring participants in the Aircraft Maintenance Technician pathway to pursue employment at those companies. “There’s no requirement for these Amazon employees to go to work for an Amazon Air company,” says Markhoff. “I think part of what they’re seeing is this is a really good opportunity for their employees to put those that want one on a professional career track.”
Markhoff also stresses the importance of these types of programs to combat the aviation industry workforce shortage. He notes that the school was launched by a group of former airline executives in 2017 who foresaw the growing workforce shortage. In addition to its Part 147 maintenance training, it also offers flight training (operating under International Aero Academy), a Part 145 maintenance operation (International Aero Maintenance), an air carrier certificate and charter operations (International Aero Charters). Markhoff says the idea was to build a “complete holistic solution” for industry partners.
The school’s first class of Part 147 students graduated in October 2021, with many students receiving job offers six months prior. “Every week we have everyone from Lufthansa Technik to airlines to MROs coming to speak with students,” he says. “Everybody’s trying to recruit from this shrinking pool.”
Markhoff says International AeroTech Academy is now in discussions with several industry partners about other opportunities for students. In addition to the new program with Amazon, it also has partnerships in place with Spirit Airlines and Piper Aircraft. Students in its pilot training programs can apply to Spirit after reaching 500 hr. of flight time. If they pass the interview they receive a conditional letter of employment, after which they can begin employment with Spirit upon achieving 1,500 hr.
Meanwhile, the school’s students have an employment opportunity with Piper before they even begin classes. New students can interview with the aircraft manufacturer before classes start, and if they pass the interview they receive a conditional letter of employment.
Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for AviationWeek.com, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.
Wednesday, May 24th, 2023
International Aero Charters, sister company of International Aero Academy, upgrades its Air Carrier certificate with the FAA for unlimited aircraft and pilots. Charters offers full-service on-demand charters for the Southeast and Bahamas utilizing cabin class multiengine aircraft. For more information, visit www.iaerocharters.com
Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
LAKELAND, FL – Tecnam, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of general aviation aircraft and International Aero Academy, Ltd. (“IAA”) today announced they have completed an aircraft purchase agreement for an initial six (6) P2008 aircraft with the first delivery scheduled in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
The IAA Tecnam P2008, will be equipped with state-of-the-art Garmin G3X touch screen displays. GTN-650 GPS/Com/Nav and a GTX45R that provides ADS-B in and out, traffic and weather. To enhance primary training, the Garmin displays can be quickly reconfigured to display the classic six-pack instrument view. Building on the base of European FTO’s utilizing the P2008, IAA will be the first FAA part 141 flight academy to acquire a fleet of P2008’s.
IAA is a Lakeland, FL-based FAA-certificated ab initio and accelerated flight academy with authority to issue foreign student visas for training. With its focus on training the next generation of domestic and foreign professional pilots, IAA has a modern 12,000 square foot maintenance facility with dedicated maintenance professionals, and over 12,000 square feet of office, onsite dormitory housing for students and training space.
“We are thrilled to have been selected by IAA for their next generation of training aircraft. The P2008 will deliver unprecedented economics to flight schools with its proven low-fuel consumption Rotax engine, next generation avionics suite, durable strategic combination of carbon fiber and metal, and U.S.-based AOG support,” said Shannon Yeager, Tecnam Director of Sales. “We look forward to supporting the IAA team and the entry into service of the P2008 with anticipated aircraft utilization exceeding 1,000 hours per year.”
“The analysis for our fleet renewal was no different from the analysis we have done as airline executives for Boeing and Airbus acquisitions – capital cost, maintenance cost projections, performance, fuel burn, manufacturer support, environmental compatibility, safety, reliability and customer acceptance. The Tecnam product line far exceeded the competition in this analysis and we are proud to be the U.S. 141 fleet launch customer for the P2008,” said Steven Markhoff, IAA President & CEO.“Our commitment to Tecnam is reflected in the arrangement that allows for additional models of Tecnam aircraft. IAA will soon become a Tecnam service center and a showcase for excellence.”
“We are proud of this new contract signed with IAA, because they will be the first FAA part 141 FTO to utilize the P2008 and we know that many other U.S. schools will follow. This fleet will be proof of a best practice model both from the student and school perspective: students will benefit from the new generation aircraft and avionics, and the school will benefit from the very low acquisition and operating costs”, said Paolo Pascale, Tecnam CEO.
“The Tecnam P2008 represents enhanced evolution in primary flight training for both students and flight academies: (i) next generation avionics, (ii) reduced maintenance costs (iii) state of the art materials integration (iv) remarkably low fuel consumption that effectively operates as a long-term hedge against potential increases in fuel cost,” said Gerald Gitner, IAA’s Non-Executive Chairman.
IAA based in Lakeland, FL is a FAA 141 certified flight academy with authority to grant foreign student visas. IAA is a leader in ab initio and accelerated flight training with a successful history of total immersion two-week private pilots’ courses, three-week instrument rating courses, three-week Certified Flight Instructor courses and a six-month private pilot through commercial multiengine rating course. IAA’s facilities include over 12,000 sq. ft. of dedicated hangar space with a dedicated team of maintenance professionals and on-site housing.
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Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
Company Completes Series A Financing to Fund Growth
LAKELAND, FL – September 6, 2017 – International Aero Academy, Ltd. today announced it has completed a Series A Preferred Stock financing with strategic industry investors.
IAA is a Lakeland, FL-based FAA-certificated ab initio and accelerated flight school with authority to issue foreign student visas for training. With a focus on training the next generation of domestic and foreign professional pilots, IAA has a growing fleet of Cessna and Piper single and multiengine aircraft, its own modern 12,000 square foot maintenance facility with dedicated maintenance professionals, and over 12,000 square feet of office, onsite dormitory housing for students and training space. IAA acquired the assets of Tailwheels, an FAA CFR 141 Certificated Flight School, in April 2017.
“During our due diligence to acquire an FAA-certificated flight school, Tailwheels became the obvious choice with an unparalleled record of success in accelerated and ab initio training, full service dedicated maintenance capabilities and an extremely supportive airport management team,” said Steven Markhoff, President and CEO of IAA. Tailwheels was the obvious candidate from which to launch our strategic plan.”
“Primary flight training remains one of the last segments of aviation that is not fully professionalized, and we are in the midst of the largest pilot shortage in modern history,” said Gerald Gitner, Non-Executive Chairman. “We see an opportunity to bring our years of aviation experience to operate at the highest level of safety, regulatory compliance and efficiency coupled with a customer service-focused environment.”
Mr. Markhoff previously served as General Counsel of several airlines, including ValuJet, Vice President of Acquisitions at Hawaiian Airlines, General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of Kitty Hawk, Vice President of Travel Management of Caesars Entertainment and most recently led the FAA 121 certification of a regional airline.
Mr. Markhoff, with over 30 years of flying experience, holds Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor ratings and is type rated in the Boeing 737. Mr. Gitner brings 50 years of aviation executive experience having served as Chairman and CEO of TWA, Vice Chairman and CFO of Pan Am, President of Texas Air, Chairman of Kitty Hawk and a co-founder of People Express. Mr. Gitner has also served on numerous public and private company Boards.
IAA is a leader in ab initio and accelerated flight training with a successful history of total immersion private pilots’ courses, three-week instrument rating courses, two-week Certified Flight Instructor courses and a five-month private pilot through commercial multiengine rating course.
“Our strategic plan and vision is to simply be the best – the best training with industry leading pass rates and an unparalleled commitment to customer service and satisfaction,” Mr. Markhoff stated. “Our reputation for these attributes is attracting those new to aviation, as well as numerous students who have already started their training at other flight schools and wish to enhance their training experience.”
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