WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – WSU Tech will offer a two-year professional pilot program to prepare those looking for a professional pilot career in industries including commercial airlines, flight training, private or business aviation, cargo, and government organizations.
“This is the final piece of the aviation ecosystem,” said Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech.
Utash said their pilot program is lifting off during a critical time in the industry.
“When you look at the data for the need for pilots across the United States in the next 15 years, the need is over 200,000,” she said.
That pilot shortage is already causing a possible impact on travel at Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.
“We don’t know, and normally if there are delays, cancelations, the airlines won’t say it’s because of the pilot shortage,” said Brad Christopher, the assistant director of Wichita Airports. “There could be dozens of reasons for that, but it certainly could and I would hazard a guess and say yeah, I’m sure there have been.”
Utash said it will take multiple universities creating new programs like WSU’s to combat the growing shortage amid a rising demand to fly.
“K-State is another partner of ours. They have 100 students waiting on a backlog to get in their program,” said Ron Draper, Textron Aviation CEO.
Christopher said while more education will help address the pilot shortage, it will still be years until graduates end up flying for airline companies.
“Hours is the resume. They are not going to go to work with a regional airline with much less than 1,000 hours,” said Christopher.
Instruction for the program will be at WSU Tech’s National Center for Aviation Training located at Colonel James Jabara Airport in northeast Wichita.
Graduates from the FAA Part 141 pilot program will earn an Associates of Applied Science in Professional Pilot from WSU Tech as well as be eligible for five ratings from the FAA; Private, Instrument, Commercial, Multiengine, and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).
Full completion of the program will take approximately two years. Outside of the classroom work, students will be required to complete a minimum of 235 flight hours that they will begin to complete in WSU Tech’s new Cessna Skyhawk 172, the ultimate training platform and the most popular single-engine aircraft in aviation history. The aircraft is leased to the college by Textron Aviation as part of its Top Hawk program.
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