American Eagle Airlines and Southeastern Oklahoma State University have signed two agreements to encourage and help students pursue careers as commercial airline pilots.
Under these agreements, the two parties will establish the American Eagle Pipeline Program that begins while Southeastern students are still enrolled at the university and culminates with a guaranteed position for the student at American Eagle as a first officer. The Pipeline Program will not only help the company address their growing demand for qualified commercial pilots, but also will assist students by reducing the economic hurdles that might prevent them from pursuing a career in aviation.
“This is really a landmark day for the Southeastern aviation program,’’ Southeastern president Larry Minks said at a signing ceremony held today at the University. “It will open up a world of opportunity for our students as they pursue their careers in aviation. We believe this partnership is of mutual benefit for American Eagle and Southeastern.’’
To join the program, candidates will need to be enrolled in the Southeastern aviation program and meet certain screening and application standards. Once they are in the program, participants will be monitored and mentored through graduation. After graduation they will serve as certified flight instructors for Southeastern, while being able to enjoy the privileges and benefits of being an American Eagle employee. Once these individuals obtain the Federal Aviation Administration’s required flight hours for commercial passenger airline pilots, they can then begin serving as first officers for American Eagle.
"American Eagle created the Pipeline Program to ensure we have the quality and qualified pilots we need for future operations,” said Nicholas Alford, American Eagle's director of pilot recruitment. “The current demand for pilots is greater than the number of individuals available for hire. We hope by working with Southeastern we can fill our ranks with the best new flight professionals possible, while easing program participants transition from student to pilot.”
American Eagle is the regional partner of American Airlines and with a fleet of more than 220 aircraft and hubs in Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York LaGuardia and New York Kennedy. Operating more than 1,800 flights a day to 159 cities across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, the American Eagle network is the largest regional airline system in the world.
“I am very excited to have this opportunity to work with American Eagle for our aviation program,’’ said Dr. David Conway, director of the Southeastern Aviation Sciences Institute. “This pipeline program will bring a new dimension to our training while taking it to a higher level of application.’’
Southeastern offers its nationally-known aviation programs at four locations: Durant, Tinker Air Force Base and Rose State College in Midwest City, and Oklahoma City Community College.
The Southeastern Aviation Sciences Institute is accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI).
The Southeastern aviation program received more good news recently when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted authority to the University to certify graduates of the school’s professional pilot program to be eligible for an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with reduced aeronautical experience.
The FAA and Southeastern recently signed a Letter of Authorization (LOA) to that effect. Southeastern is one of six universities to have this LOA and the only school in Oklahoma with this distinction.
The aviation program was established at Southeastern in the spring of 1966 when the regents approved the offering of a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aviation.