Published in FLYING MAGAZINE
by Ashley Burns
Officials from International Aero Academy and Southeastern University gathered at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Florida on Wednesday to announce a new aviation program that they believe will blaze the trail for a solution to the pilot shortage. Joined by SEU President Kent Ingle and others at IAA’s LAL facilities, IAA President Steven Markhoff declared that this new venture “will institute a complete paradigm shift in aviation degree programs,” as students will be able to focus first on training and attaining their ratings.
“They will gain valuable flight hours working as flight instructors while completing their degrees and enjoy a defined career pathway to a commercial airline,” Markhoff told the gathered crowd of reporters, SEU students, and community leaders. “Our unique pilot training program provides an excellent opportunity for students to accelerate their pilot training and careers.”
This partnership, Markhoff told Flying, was established as a response to Boeing’s pilot and technician forecast calling for the doubling of the workforce size over the next 20 years. Boeing’s vice president of business and general aviation William Ampofo told the audience at this year’s AirVenture that the key to solving the pilot crisis is expanding the pool from which everyone pulls their pilots. Markhoff hopes to do just that by attracting new students who never previously considered careers in aviation because of the exclusivity of the industry. At SEU, they’ll be offered cost-effective, accelerated Federal Aviation Administration Part 141 approved pilot training programs.
“Students will have the opportunity to complete their private pilot certificate and their commercial multi-engine and flight instructor ratings during their first eight months of enrollment, allowing them to work as flight instructors in their first year – building flight hours and earning wages, while accelerating their post-graduate careers,” Ingle explained.
SEU students can begin taking ground school and flight courses as electives in the spring of 2019, while the university plans to offer three aviation degree programs by the fall, pending approval from regional accreditors. Those degrees will be Associate of Applied Science — Professional Pilot, Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management, and Bachelor of Business and Professional Leadership — Professional Pilot. Courses will be available both online and at IAA’s classrooms at LAL. Federal loans are available for U.S. students.
Missouri-based Trans States Airlines, a United Express operator, also joined the partnership to offer a career pilot pathway program.
“The ability to provide a career pathway for students at the beginning of their academic career, coupled with an airline transition course specifically tailored for our airline, will both incentivize the next generation of aviation professionals and ensure their success,” said Lee Stelzner, director of flight operations at TSA.