September 02, 2016

Pact creates career path for aviation students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An agreement with a St. Louis-based regional airline will provide a career path for Southern Illinois University Carbondale aviation students interested in becoming professional pilots. 

The university will sign an agreement to participate in Trans States Airlines’ “Aviators Program.” The agreement will offer a career path for students after they graduate from SIU Carbondale, José Ruiz, professor, aviation management and flight, said. 

“Given the fact that more than 600,000 aviators are going to be required over the next 20 years, this type of airline partnership will allow our students to be mentored by pilots who are already engaged in the industry. Having their tuition subsidized does nothing but enhance our program’s ability to assist our aviation flight students realize their career aspirations,” Ruiz said.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend the signing event at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7, at Southern Illinois Airport’s east ramp area. In the event of rain, the signing by SIU Carbondale Associate Provost for Academic Administration David DiLalla and Capt. Keith Stamper, director of flight operations, Trans States Airlines, will be in the Transportation Education Center’s north entrance lobby. Airline personnel will provide tours of the EMB-145, a 50-seat regional jet, after the ceremony and meet with interested students in the afternoon. For more information, contact José Ruiz, professor, aviation management and flight, at 618/453-8898.

The partnership agreement signing is set for 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Southern Illinois Airport, in front of Trans States Airlines’ EMB-145, a 50-seat regional jet. Airline personnel will meet with interested students Wednesday afternoon. 

Under the program, students must have at least their Federal Aviation Administration private pilot license, and agree to obtain their certified flight instructor license and work as a flight instructor at SIU Carbondale to complete the required flight hours to meet Trans States Airlines’ hiring requirements. In addition, students will have a flight operations mentor at the airline, and will be required to participate in Aviator Program events at the airline’s St. Louis headquarters. Benefits to students include eligibility for up to $10,000 in tuition reimbursement after they successfully complete the airline’s New Hire Training Program. The university will also receive curriculum assistance from the airline in training and supporting reference materials to assist in creating airline-specific program materials. 

Ruiz said it could be one or two years after a student graduates and is working as a certified flight instructor at SIU Carbondale that they reach the 1,000-flight hour requirement to advance to Trans States Airlines. 

“These agreements are becoming more prevalent in aviation,” Ruiz said. “We recognize how important it is to offer our students these career opportunities and hopefully this will be the first of several partnerships with regional carriers.” 

Trans States Airlines started the program in June. The airline operates a fleet on behalf of United Airlines and American Airlines. Trans States anticipates providing service to more than 4.6 million passengers in 2016, with approximately 237 daily flights providing service to more than 70 cities in North America. In addition to St. Louis, the airline has crew residences in Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Raleigh-Durham. 

“We are very happy to sign the Aviators agreement with SIU,” Keith Stamper, Trans States Airlines director of flight operations, said. “We feel this school provides great aviation education opportunities for future aviation professionals, and look forward to working closely with the school in their efforts.” 

Andy Wang, dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, noted that Trans States Airlines is a “fast-growing regional airline.” “This agreement adds another airline partner to our industry partnership database, building a professional pilot career pipeline for our students,” he said. 

The university is committed to training students “to be knowledgeable, safe, and sought-after pilots in the aviation industry,” Wang said. 

“The TSA Aviators Program is just another example showing that many top airlines are so confident in SIU aviation education that they provide conditional job offers to our students even before their graduation,” he said.