Have You Thought of Becoming a Pilot
Each day, the Federal Aviation Administration controls take-offs, landings, and flights of over 50,000 aircraft, and they expect to hire approximately 17,000 air traffic controllers in the next 10 years. That’s a lot of jobs, and some 30 colleges and universities have partnered with the FAA under a program called the Air Traffic Controller Collegiate Training Initiative. Partner Schools “…encompass the FAA’s Air Traffic Basics Course and the CTI designation requires that a school be “…willing to complete the evaluation process and participation in a site visit.”
There are an array of aviation programs from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program to New Hampshire’s Daniel Webster College online M.B.A. for Aviation Professionals. Most schools partner with airlines and airports: the Lewis University Airport serves as a reliever airport for O’Hare International, Kent State University partners with Express Jet Airlines, Arizona State University partners with Mesa Air Group airlines and uses the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority.
Student Brandon Blank says “We start flying from day one. They oversee all of our training. Upon graduation, you’re guaranteed an interview with the Mesa Group.” Mr. Blank says “You get your private pilot certificate, your instrument rating, your commercial pilot’s certification, your certified flight instructor certificate. In the final year we, we fly in the regional jets. There are also simulators and slow motion simulators.
We learn about air traffic control, so we learn a lot about what’s going on, on the other side of the microphone, which is cool because anybody can make mistakes and it’s good to know how they’re thinking. All of our classes are relevant. I’ve never seen anybody, like they do in other majors, walk into a class and say “why am I taking this class?”
Dr. Thomas Schildgen, Chair for the Department of Technology Management at Arizona State says “My son went through this program. There are three components Air Transportation Management, Professional Flight, and Air Traffic Control Management which is all FAA regulated. ASU has partnered with a major airline and the mesa air group does conduct interviews with all of our graduates; not everybody gets hired but the employment rate is extremely strong in part because we have a secondary admission process - a dual review process. For example, we review students to make sure their driving records meet FAA requirements –anyone with a DWI conviction or several moving violations in a car or drug problems, we tell them up front the flight provider isn’t going to put them up in an aircraft and they will not be hired by the FAA.
At this moment, the industry as a whole is in cutback mode, but students are still entitled to their interview and Mesa can hold their applications. There’s always furloughs in this industry, there always have been, but there are also age restrictions on commercial pilots and air traffic controllers, so a lot of people will cycle out.”
In the Valley of the Sun, ASU trains out of “the old Williams Field air force base; they did more touch and go’s than any other base. Pilots from all over the world were train here and we were able to walk into this where you can fly pretty much 365 days a year, 24/7.”
ASU’s flight program costs $52,000 above tuition. “Some schools are $100,000 over tuition.” says Dr. Schildgen, “Students pay for the flight provider to give you the hours that you need to get through the degree.” However, “We make ourselves available to minority and immigrant students through loans, scholarships and financial aid. Access, Excellence and Impact is the mantra.”#