In what is described as a continuing effort to find solutions for the national professional pilot supply shortage, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Silver Airways, along with the State of Florida, are partnering to offer financial assistance and a direct pathway to jobs at the Florida-based carrier.
The Professional Pilot Apprenticeship/Internship (PPAI) Grant programme, which is a collaborative initiative launched by the State of Florida, Embry-Riddle and Silver Airways, focuses on increasing the level and number of potential pilots travelling to the state to earn their undergraduate degree and professional pilot certifications.
According to the 2016 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook report, between now and 2035, the aviation industry will need to supply more than two million new aviation personnel worldwide including 617,000 commercial airline pilots – 112,000 in North America. Recent reports produced by the Department of Transportation state that airlines are carrying nearly 900 million passengers in the United States in 2015, a 5% increase from the previous year.
The grant, which could be offered to as many as 60 students, will require completion of an undergraduate degree at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, Florida, Campus, and after satisfying academic and training qualifications for the grant, the pilots would serve as flight instructors at the university. The grant then provides opportunities for these students to be offered jobs as professional pilots at Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways, which operates routes within Florida and between Florida and the Bahamas.
“All designated funds will be used to cover costs to the students, including certifications – Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (CFII), Multi Engine Instructor (MEI), Airline Transport Pilot/Certification Training Programme (ATP/CTP)”
Money to support the programme is from a $2 million grant to the university approved earlier this year by Florida Governor Rick Scott’s 2016-17 ‘Florida First’ budget. A top priority of the budget is investments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to prepare students in K-12 and colleges in the state for jobs in high-demand areas.
All designated funds will be used to cover costs to the students, including certifications – Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (CFII), Multi Engine Instructor (MEI), Airline Transport Pilot/Certification Training Programme (ATP/CTP) – as well as hourly rates for the rental of aircraft, fuel, flight training devices (FTD), full flight simulators (FFS), all instructional materials and tests.
“As a global leader in aviation and aerospace higher education, Embry-Riddle is proud of its reputation for providing world-class, all-encompassing and comprehensive degree programs for our future pilots – and that includes the vital skills they need to be successful in their careers by offering the best in hands-on training in and out of the classroom,” said Embry-Riddle Interim President Dr. Karen A. Holbrook. “An initiative such as this reflects the unfailing commitment by the State of Florida, the aviation industry and higher education to instill valuable, affordable and quality skills, knowledge, experience and opportunity to its future.”
“This partnership with the State of Florida, Embry-Riddle and Silver Airways will provide students eager to become pilots with the financial support and a solid career pathway to fulfil their dreams and allow aviation to continue to thrive in our home state,” said Silver Airways President and CEO Sami Teittinen. “This Professional Pilot Apprenticeship/Internship Grant program is yet another example of Silver’s innovative initiatives to provide opportunities for pilots to advance their careers.” The airline also said that expected future outcomes also include improving safety standards, reducing pilot turnover, and strengthening the airline industry in the State of Florida as a whole.