July 10, 2006

AirTran provides internships for SIUC students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Aviation flight students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are the beneficiaries of an agreement between SIUC and AirTran Airways that provides valuable experience and potentially new career opportunities.

The University and the airline – one of the nation's largest low-fare air carriers – entered into a formal flight operations internship agreement late last month, said David A. NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight. The department is part of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Two students, Brendan K. Snavely and Carl L. Sobie, seniors in aviation management, are working with the airline in Atlanta this summer. Founded in 1993, the Orlando, Fla.-based airline offers nearly 700 daily flights to 50 destinations. AirTran's hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The internship agreement "offers exciting opportunities for our students with a low-cost airline," NewMyer said. "The low-cost carriers are the up-and-coming group of airlines and are very successful. Because of their growth, these airlines provide excellent opportunities for aviation careers."

Students will receive academic credit for the semester. AirTran Airways does not provide any compensation and students are responsible for their personal expenses.

Negotiations for the internship agreement with the air carrier started last fall when Klaus Goersch, vice president of flight operations for the airline, came to SIUC to deliver the keynote address for the annual Aviation In the Future banquet in October.

The agreement gives interns "exposure to the industry that no one really gets a chance to see unless they are an intern or work at the airline," said Floy Ponder, director of flying for AirTran.

Snavely and Sobie are working on projects in the chief pilot's office. They participated in the new pilot hiring indoctrination and have been in the flight simulator, Ponder said.

The airline said in a June 30 news release that it intends to add another 2,500 jobs in Georgia over the next five years – 500 new positions per year – and add more than 80 new Boeing 737s to its fleet along with new routes throughout the country.

Snavely is the son of Keith and Gail Snavely (1610 W. Taylor Dr.) of Carbondale. Sobie is the son of Robert and Martha Sobie, (265 S. Ott Ave.) of Glen Ellyn.

One of the benefits of the agreement for SIUC students is that students who successfully complete internships will be offered the chance to interview with the airline to become pilots when they reach 2,500 flight hours -- which takes at least five years after graduation to achieve, NewMyer said. For those interns AirTran is waiving its policy that applicants have an additional 500 to 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command turbine flight time, NewMyer said.

"We already know them so we can go ahead and give them that opportunity," Ponder said. The agreement also allows the airline to know different institutions and meet young pilots, he said.

"We are looking for a long-term relationship with SIUC," he said.

The department now has internship agreements with eight airlines: American, AirTran, ATA, Delta, Midwest, Northwest, United and United Parcel Service.

Shaping high-quality undergraduate programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.