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Kansas university partners with airlines for pilot program

June 16, 2018

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Several airlines are combating a nationwide pilot shortage by partnering with Kansas State University to guarantee jobs to graduates.

Regional airlines are urgently trying to fill a large number of pilot vacancies that began in 2013 after the Federal Aviation Administration required more time for pilots to get certified, The Kansas City Star reported . The administration has also mandated that commercial pilots retire at age 65.

The university in the spring signed partnerships with Piedmont Airlines, PSA Airlines — the American Airlines subsidiary — Republic and Mesa Airlines for the Pilot Cadet Program. Under the partnership, the airlines pay students, train them and give them pilot jobs as soon as they graduate and have 1,000 flight hours.

The university’s program is part of a growing trend. The University of Central Missouri offers a similar partnership, as well as schools in Florida, California, New Jersey, Delaware and Georgia.

The number of active pilots in the U.S. declined by about 30,000 from 2008 to 2016, according to data figures from the FAA. The newspaper said big commercial airlines feel the impact if regional airlines fly customers to hub cities such as Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and New York City.

“Regional airlines provide the only source of air service to most U.S. airports,” according to a recent report by the Regional Airline Association. “Industry contraction is a national crisis.”

Jacob Mitchell is a K-State graduate and a senior flight instructor and ambassador at the university’s Polytechnic Campus in Salina. He said he chose the university because “it is one of the top schools around for flight school and the most affordable in the area.”

“It’s what I’ve always wanted,” Mitchell said. “I remember all my high school teachers would get on me for always staring out the window, and now I’ve got a career where I’m paid to look out the window.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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