Commercial airliner ExpressJet Airlines struck a deal with Eastern Michigan University’s Eagle Flight Center July 17 to form a new AP3 pilot program.
The new program is designed to offer new pilots jobs upon graduation. As long as students meet the program’s qualifications upon graduating and ExpressJet has current openings, they are guaranteed a job at the company.
EMU’s Media Relations Department said that the old contract between Express Jet and the university only guaranteed an interview out of school. Now graduates from the Eastern Eagle Flight Center located at Willow Run Airport will be guaranteed a job, as long as they meet the company’s basic requirements and the company is hiring.
“I don’t believe that there would be any better time than now to get involved with [the industry],” Colleen Redmond, the director of Marketing & Recruitment at the Eagle Flight Center said. “Because of the situation that the industry is in with their need of pilots.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the shortfall in qualified pilots is partly due to a large number of pilots retiring. An act of Congress mandates pilots retire at 65. Also, a change in FAA requirements for airlines pilot requires pilots to now have to complete 1,500 hours of flight time before getting permission to fly professionally. This is up from the 250 hours previously required.
“They’ve seen what kind of product that we put out,” Chris Sorenson, the Director of Operations & Chief Flight Instructor for the Eagle Flight Center said. “We have five, maybe seven…graduates who are actually flying for Express Jet. Not under this agreement, but just applying etcetera, and they’ve been really impressed.”
One of those students, Justin Patrick, graduated from EMU in 2011 with a bachelor’s in Aviation Flight Technology.
“The flight school was so great at EMU,” Patrick said. “Since I took the flight lessons at EFC (Eagle Flight Center), once I started at EMU as a freshman I received college credit for the work I completed while in high school.”
This is not the only college with such an arrangement. Michigan Michigan State University, Bowling Green University and North Western Michigan University have similar programs.
“If you’re definitely looking for a future in becoming a professional pilot then this is the route to go,” Redmond said. “I’ve never seen such a clear direct path to your career.”
The expected number of pilots in the commercial airline industry is expected to be over 500,000 between now and 2033.
“You know the pilot shortage is just starting to slam the airlines,” Patrick said. “With all the mandatory retirements at the major airlines. The numbers of retirements are shocking over the next 15 years.”
To qualify for the AP3 program, you must complete the program with a cumulative 2.75 GPA, and a 3.0 in your major. Students have to complete the FFA’s multi-engine land and instrument airplane ratings from the Eagle Flight Center and get a certified flight instructor certificate, receive letters of recommendation from the senior instructors of the Eagle Flight Center, pass background checks, hold a first class medical certificate at the start of training and pass the final interview with Express jet.
ExpressJet will work with the Eagle Flight Center to monitor student progress in an attempt to keep participants on track for the degree and job.
“If ExpressJet is hiring at the time, the way the agreement words is that ExpressJet is at no obligation necessarily to hire people,” Sorenson said. “But if they are looking for people they will do that.”
Located at Willow Run Airport, the Eagle Flight Center is the best-equipped aviation school in Michigan. The four run way facility is near Metro Airport, which Sorenson says is good for career opportunities.
If you are interested in the program you can contact Colleen Redmond at email@example.com.
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