Utah universities investing in planes amid pilot shortage

July 9, 2017 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Southern Utah University in Cedar City has spent $3.8 million to buy 10 new airplanes to try and lure students amid a pilot shortage.

Utah State University in Logan made a similar move as the schools are expecting a surge in aviation students with the increasing demand for pilot training, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2urPCpk) Monday.

The trend is coming just as aircraft manufacturer Boeing predicts about 617,000 more commercial airline pilots will be needed by 2035.


“This is a very exciting time; airplane pilot demand is insatiable,” said Mike Mower, executive director of Southern Utah University’s aviation program.

The university’s fall semester enrollment increased by 50 percent from the spring, from about 200 to almost 300 students.

Utah State University paid over $800,000 for four gently used planes — bringing the school’s fleet to 19 — to accommodate the 400 students enrolled for the fall semester.

Instead of putting money toward new planes, Utah Valley University in Orem has taken a different approach to control the growing interest in its aviation program. With 23 planes, the program can only accept up to 200 students in its aviation program which already has a waiting list.

The school is considering raising the grade point average and other requirements to get into the program, said Ryan Tanner, coordinator for aviation recruiting at Utah Valley.

Students applying to the program now are being told they will not be able fly until spring 2018, Tanner said.

Airlines have also become more eager to partner with schools and offer more scholarships and mentorships, according the report.

Utah-based SkyWest Airlines is offering scholarships and has established a bridge program with USU and Westminster College, a private Salt Lake City school. SkyWest also has a tuition reimbursement program at Southern Utah University.

Utah Valley University has also received some of that attention.

“We have a lot of airlines approaching us — that’s never happened before,” Tanner said. “They’re asking, ‘What can we do to make ourselves more attractive to your graduates?’ ”


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com