NBAA Convention News

First flight to right seat, ERAU gets you there, fast

 - June 30, 2008, 11:30 AM

Nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is now offering an accelerated first officer flight training (FOFT) program, which trains first officer candidates to regional airline and corporate fleet standards in less than a year.

The innovative 10- to 12-month course gives candidates 550 hr of total flight experience and advanced jet simulator flight time, preparing them for positions as first officers with domestic regional airlines.

A recent Embry-Riddle survey shows that commercial aviation will need more than 11,000 new pilots by 2003, yet only slightly more than 7,500 qualified civilian and military pilots will enter the field that year. With plans by the FAA to increase the capacity of the nation’s airports and airways by 30 percent, Daytona Beach, Fla.-based ERAU predicts the pilot crunch will continue to be a problem for years to come.

“We established this program to take advantage of opportunities created by an anticipated shortage of qualified pilots, unprecedented growth of the regional airline industry and market demand in aviation,” said George Ebbs, president of Embry-Riddle. “It is a practical response to the needs of our industry.”

Pilots Can Do It in Four Months

The FOFT program targets individuals with four-year college degrees who want to become airline pilots. Prior flight training is not required, but candidates who have a commercial pilot license with instrument and multi-engine ratings can complete the program in four months.

Embry-Riddle (Booth No. 3677) said evaluation for FOFT eligibility consists of background verification, academic and personality assessment, hand-eye coordination tests and a flight simulator lesson.

ERAU also offers a 16-month certification program in A&P technology and a four-month certification program in avionics maintenance. The academy produced its first A&P graduating class last April and is expected to graduate 180 new A&P technicians annually.

In other ERAU developments, the school won a $14.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force Academy to provide introductory flight training in single-piston-engine Diamond DA20s to cadets and lieutenants who will become Air Force pilots.   

The program, which begins October 1, will train up to 300 Air Force cadets in the first year and involve up to 540 students per year the remaining four years of the contract. The contract includes a three-year extension worth $10 million.

The 50-hr flight-training program will result in a private pilot’s license. The Air Force will provide advanced training to the cadets after they graduate from the academy.

ERAU Will Lease Diamond Trainers

Training will be done at the Air Force Academy airfield in Colorado Springs, Colo., using 35 Diamond DA20-C1 airplanes, which Embry-Riddle will lease. The academy did its own single-engine flight training until 1997 using Slingsby T67 Fireflys, but the program was dropped following a series of crashes. After that, most cadets had to wait until they graduated to get their private pilot licenses through civilian flight schools.

The new contract will enable cadets to get pilot training before graduation. Offering the program on the academy campus will provide more military oversight and mentoring, said Col. Brian Bishop, commander of the 34th Operations Group at the academy.

Embry-Riddle is one of several organizations that bid for the training contract. Its ties with the U.S. military go back to World War II, when it trained more than 25,000 aviators and technicians, and the Korean War, when it taught airplane maintenance to U.S. Air Force pilots.  

“They gave us the best value for our money,” said Bishop. “They are very well respected in aviation communities. We want to be a safe program, a quality program, and we know Embry-Riddle’s going to be able to provide this for us.”