Horizon Air, the regional airline flying as Alaska Airlines, and Central Washington University have signed an agreement to establish a pilot development programme, which will provide a stipend to students pursuing an aviation career.
The programme is designed to recruit new students into CWU’s Professional Pilot programme and provide students with an opportunity to fly as a First Officer with Horizon Air.
“With the looming pilot shortage, Horizon needs to partner with quality aviation programmes, such as CWU, to enhance our recruiting strategy and ensuring the next generation of pilots look to Horizon as a place they can build their career in aviation,” said LaMar Haugaard, Horizon Air director of pilot development and recruiting.
“We’re able to set aside scholarship stipends of $7,500,” he explained, “and the funds are targeted at students who have completed their commercial certificate, that are now ready to start working on their Flight Instructor certificate, so they can teach new students. We’re locking in, or hedging labour, years before we eventually need it. If we wanted a pilot in 2020, traditionally, we would wait until three or four months before a class date started to go ahead and get that pilot. What we have found is that if we can get that pilot to commit to Horizon Air, one to three years before employment, we have now secure that staffing; it’s a forward-looking staffing model.”
“The time to recruit a new pilot is several years before they graduate and thanks to our partnership we are confident it will result in a steady supply of well-trained pilots and help increase our ability to better predict additional hiring needs.”
The new pilot development programme will permit up to 17 students to apply for and receive a stipend, administered by the CWU Foundation, to be used for training fees and expenses related to completing their Commercial Flight Instructor certificate. The students will then receive a conditional job offer from Horizon Air, which will commit them to a term of employment with the company.
This agreement also ensures that graduating students will serve in the CWU flight training facility as certified flight instructors until they accumulate 1,000 flight hours in their log book prior to joining Horizon Air. This arrangement serves well to have adequate flight instructors in place to train the incoming students at CWU. Horizon has committed to the 2016 academic year and is already drawing up plans for 2017.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students,” said Sundaram Nataraja, chair and professor of the Department of Aviation. “Not only will they receive a generous stipend for their training fees, but they will also have a job offer from an airline waiting for them after completing their programme.”
In addition to the pilot development program, Horizon Air donated a $10,000 flight simulator to CWU’s Flight Training Centre.