POWELL, Wyo. - Northwest College, in conjunction with Choice Aviation, is responding to an anticipated pilot shortage with a new program that combines flight training and academic coursework toward an associate of science degree in aeronautical science and private and commercial pilot’s licenses.
In partnership with Choice Aviation, an FAA 141 certified flight school, the credit program is expected to launch in fall 2012; however, interested students can start the flight training portion earlier through the college’s Center for Training and Development (CTD) noncredit program.
The workforce development hours earned through the Northwest’s CTD will transfer as credits in the degree program.
The academic coursework for the degree can be completed on campus in Powell, at the NWC Cody Center or online.
Choice Aviation will provide the flight and ground training components at the Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody. Choice Aviation General Manager Todd Simmons said, “We are excited to assist students as they navigate their way into and thru the aviation industry.”
Students who successfully complete NWC’s aeronautical science degree credit program can use it to transfer to a four-year college or as a terminal degree that qualifies them to work in the aviation industry (most commercial pilots are required to hold a bachelor’s degree, plus private and commercial licenses).
Bob Krenz, NWC’s interim vice president for academic affairs, said the new aeronautical science degree can help prepare students for a variety of jobs in the aviation industry—pilot, instructor, traffic controller, airport manager, etc. It was developed primarily to help area workers find a viable employment option in a field that is showing increasing demand.
For several years, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has issued warnings to the worlds’ airlines of a severe pilot shortage unless industry and government work together to change training and qualification practices.
According to a new IATA estimate released in January 2011, the industry may need 17,000 new pilots annually due to expected industry growth and retirements. The organization also said that increasing the retirement age to 65 will help, but the problem will not be solved just by doing this.
A sampling of the classes required in the four-semester program include Private Pilot Ground, Private Pilot Flight, Instrument Pilot Ground, Instrument Pilot Flight, Commercial Pilot Ground Part 1 and 2, Commercial Pilot Flight Stage 1 and 2, Precalculus Trigonometry, Macroeconomics or Microeconomics and Survey of Aeronautical Science, as well as a sound core of general education.
Krenz said because of the technical training involved, interested students should expect to pay considerably higher class fees than usual, in addition to the regular cost of tuition and books.