“The aviation college degree programs are broken; they cost too much, don’t include instructor ratings, and have too few hours to get a job with an airline when graduating,” International Aero Academy president and CEO Steven Markoff said on Tuesday at Sun ’n‘ Fun 2018. “I aimed to fix that.”
He tapped into his experience as an airline executive at Mesa Airlines to develop a program that would better prepare future airline pilots while lowering the cost, as well as get more U.S. students interested in pursuing a flying career in the first place.
Thus, Central Christian College of Kansas and Lakeland, Florida-based International Aero Academy announced a partnership this week to develop more cost-effective aviation degree programs. Together they have formed the International School of Aerospace & Aviation in Lakeland, pairing the former’s two- and four-year aviation degree programs with the latter’s accelerated FAA Part 141 pilot training programs at the satellite campus.
To maximize time, students at the International School of Aerospace & Aviation will first complete their certificates and ratings at International Aero Academy, up to their flight instructor ratings. After that, they will take classes at the Central Christian College satellite campus in Lakeland while they also flight instruct at International Aero Academy.
“That allows students to earn money while attending college courses,” Markoff said. “For all certificates and ratings, 1,000 hours of flight time, four-year degree, and income from flight instructing, I expect net cost to be sub-$75,000. That’s nearly half [that] of other existing four-year aviation degree programs.” Because the college is non-profit, students are also eligible for student loans.
In conjunction with the partnership with the college, International Aero Academy placed an order for six two-seat, all-composite Tecnam P2008 light sport airplanes to be used as trainers. The first will be delivered in the second quarter.
The flight school currently has 14 aircraft, but the fleet is a mix of Cessnas and Pipers. Markoff said his goal is to rationalize the fleet to possibly include all Tecnam airplanes over the coming years. “The Tecnam product line far exceeded the competition in our analysis, and we are proud to be the U.S. Part 141 fleet launch customer for the P2008,” he added.