An agreement between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Republic Airline

September 05, 2017

Agreement offers career path for aviation students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – An agreement between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Republic Airline, an Indianapolis-based regional airline, will provide a career path for aviation students interested in becoming professional pilots. 

The university will sign an agreement on Thursday, Sept. 7, to participate in an “aviation interview partnership” with Republic Airline Inc. The pact will allow qualifying students to receive a preferential interview with the airline and a conditional job offer after they achieve their instrument rating, if all of the qualifications are met. 

“As the need for commercial pilots continues to increase, SIU is working hard to provide the industry with qualified students to meet these demands,” Chancellor Carlo Montemagno said. “This agreement will be another significant component in our nationally recognized aviation program’s success. Our students are educated not only as great pilots, but also to be the next generation of aviation leaders.”

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend the event at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 7, at Southern Illinois Airport’s east ramp area. In the event of rain, the signing by SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno and Valerie Penn, Republic’s College Relations Consultant, will be in the Transportation Education Center’s north entrance lobby. Airline personnel will provide tours of the Embraer 175, a 76-seat regional jet, after the ceremony, and meet with students in the afternoon. For more information, contact Michael Burgener, interim chair, Department of Aviation Management and Flight, at 618/536-3371.

SIU Carbondale is the 23rd university to participate in the Republic Airlines program. Michael Burgener, interim chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, said the five-year agreement “gives students a pathway to employment within the airlines.” The program now has about 150 aviation flight students. 

“The quality of the SIU alumni who we have hired in the past speaks for itself,” said Lauren McNamara, talent brand strategist for Republic Airline. “We have numerous SIU grads among our crewmembers and other positions throughout the company. We’ve also received warm welcome and a lot of interest from students and faculty each time visit campus.” 

Participating students will also be eligible for the airline’s flight time initiative, a flight-time building program in which students within 100 hours of their airport transport pilot (ATP) certificate minimums can have the airline pick up that expense. Flight fees can range between $150 and $300 per hour. Incoming pilots can choose to take advantage of that initiative or receive a $10,000 signing bonus. Pilots are trained on the Embraer 170/175 once they begin working for the airline. 

The current Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook forecasts that the aviation industry will need 617,000 commercial airline pilots through 2035. McNamara said the airline is hiring pilots “nonstop, and our push to hire talent in those areas as well as our corporate positions has never been stronger.” 

More than 300 pilots have entered the airlines’ cadet program since it began in October 2015. McNamara said “dozens” of pilots have transitioned into first officer roles within the company since then. 

“It’s not a quick fix. The current push will continue for years, which is why our partnerships with strong, reputable aviation programs -- like SIU Carbondale -- are so important and necessary,” she said. “We know that the students here match the high quality we are seeking to add to our talented group of aviation professionals at Republic.” 

Two SIU Carbondale aviation alumni, Capt. Nate Steele and First Officer Jon Galante, will pilot the airline’s Embraer 175 when it arrives at Southern Illinois Airport on Thursday.  Galante graduated in December 2012 with a degree in aviation flight and management; Steele earned his degree in 2001. Both are former members of the Flying Salukis. Nearly 50 of the airline’s 5,200 employees are SIU Carbondale alumni. 

“I enjoyed my time at SIU as both a student and instructor,” said Steele, who earned his degree in aviation management. “It is truly a world-class program that continues to improve. They have outstanding staff with modern technology and facilities.” 

Republic Airlines operates a fleet of more than 180 aircraft and offers scheduled passenger service of about 900 flights daily to approximately 100 cities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. The airline has partnerships with American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines. 

José Ruiz, professor of aviation management and flight, said the agreement enhances the program’s ability to help aviation flight students realize their career aspirations. 

The agreement with Republic is the university’s third with a regional airline that provides students a pathway toward an aviation career. SIU Carbondale also has similar types of agreements with Cape Air and Trans States Airlines. 

Ruiz and Burgener each said these types of agreements help students with individual career goals and the university in attracting future aviators. 

“If you can guarantee these kids an opportunity to pursue a positive method of gaining employment immediately after leaving college they are going to take advantage of it,” Ruiz said.