Nov. 15, 2018 – Southeastern University (SEU) and International Aero Academy, Ltd. (IAA) announced this week the launch of an innovative aviation program that will provide a fast track for students to help meet the urgent need for professional pilots in the coming decades.
The pilot shortage is here now. Boeing is projecting a worldwide shortage of nearly 800,000 over the next 15 years, due to a large percentage of the professional pilot population reaching retirement age. Another factor is the rapidly expanding airline industry in Asia, which is fueling competition for labor.
The partnership will pair four-year and two-year bachelor’s and associate’s degrees from SEU with IAA’s innovative accelerated Federal Aviation Administration Part 141 approved pilot training programs.
United Express operator Trans States Airlines also announced that it will join with SEU and IAA to offer a unique career pilot pathway program.
IAA’s facilities at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Florida will be SEU’s 113th extension site. IAA and SEU designed these programs to provide aviation students with an efficient, cost-effective and student-oriented program.
“We are excited about what this new partnership between Southeastern Universityand International Aero Academy will bring to our airport and aviation community,” said Gene Conrad, Lakeland Linder International Airport director. “The aviation industry as a whole is struggling to develop skilled aviation professionals, and innovative partnerships like this are imperative to enhancing the future of our industry.”
A distinctive feature of the SEU program is that students may choose to accelerate their flight training and begin their flying career earlier while they complete their degree online. By working as a flight instructor while completing their degrees, SEU students will have logged up to five times the total number of flight hours as compared to peers from other university programs. These logged hours will make them more competitive in the job market.
“Students will have the opportunity to complete their private pilot license 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,” said Kent Ingle, president of Southeastern University.
Upon acceptance to one of the degree programs, students will have the opportunity to interview with Trans States Airlines and receive a conditional letter of employment for a pilot First Officer position. When qualified students complete their required flight time, they will transition directly into Trans States’ First Officer training program.
“Together with SEU, we will institute a complete paradigm shift in aviation degree programs allowing students to focus first on flight 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,” said Steven Markhoff, president of International Aero Academy. “Our unique pilot training program provides an excellent opportunity for students to accelerate their pilot training and careers.”
“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 Trans States Airlines.
Traditional universities known for aviation often do not graduate students with sufficient flight hours to transition directly to the airlines. Once most students graduate, they have to build flight hours, typically as a flight instructor for at least one year to qualify for their airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate. Students in these bachelor’s programs take five years or longer to go from zero flight hours to enough to fly for the airlines.
The SEU program will enable students to earn their seniority sooner, moving from the start of the degree program to a job as a first officer, flying regional jets, in as little as 30 months.
U.S. students can apply for federal student loans to assist with the cost of the program. Courses will be held both online and in classrooms at Lakeland Linder International Airport.
Pending approval from regional accreditors, SEU plans to offer an Associate of Applied Science-Professional Pilot, Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management, and Bachelor of Business and Professional Leadership — Professional Pilot track beginning next fall. Any SEU student will be able to enroll in ground school and flight courses as elective courses beginning in the spring semester of 2019.
SEU students with conditional letters of employment from Trans States will also be eligible for airline pass travel, up to 90 days of airline seniority, as well as an additional bonus to be paid upon completion of First Officer training.
- Graduates will spend less on total tuition and flight costs for an accredited degree.
- Graduates will enter the workforce sooner than those of most other institutions.
- Qualified students will be paid for their work as instructors as they complete their degree online.
While at SEU, students may train in a fleet of new, state-of-the-art Tecnam P2008 aircraft that were recently acquired by IAA. The aircraft are equipped with the latest in glass panel cockpit technology.