Aviation technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, and for good reason. With the advent of drone technology and more autonomous flight training, traditional pilot training has seen a dip in recent years. Aviation manufacturer Boeing predicts that in the next 20 years the industry will need nearly 800,000 new pilots to fill roles being emptied by those beginning to end their long careers.
Fortunately major players in the industry, including Embry-Riddle, are working to match the demand for commercial and private pilots. The aeronautical university based near Prescott has just announced a new partnership with Korean Airlines that looks to answer the projected pilot shortage and get out ahead of the issue.
The program is expected to produce around 40 new pilots each year and is the first international partnership between the flight school and a commercial airline. A big push behind partnering with Korean can be connected to the prospected boom in activity in the Asia-Pacific region, which will need 261,000 new pilots flying in that area by 2037.
“The pilot shortage is still the most pressing need. Secondly, but also important, are maintenance personnel, such as certified A&P’s (Airframe and Powerplants),” says Tim Holt, dean and professor for the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle. “Bringing in talent, both women in Aviation and underrepresented minorities, need a strong emphasis. There is a lot of available talent, broader programs are needed to bring that talent in.”
The new partnership program, which will also be brought to life simultaneously at the Daytona Beach, Florida Embry-Riddle campus, will look to prepare graduates to find work almost immediately following completion.
It was also just announced that Boeing, which has a helicopter manufacturing site in Mesa, will award Embry-Riddle $3 million in grants to further accelerate the school’s pilot training and aviation maintenance programs. Beyond getting pilots ready to fly commercial and private jets, the university also puts a big emphasis on cybersecurity, computer programming, engineering and cyber intelligence, all representing a full-scale approach to the future of aviation professionals.
Boeing’s investment will fund annual scholarships for flight training, maintenance training and certification costs related to the pilot training programs, like with Korean Air. All scholarship money will be available to all students with a focus on increasing female pilots, minority students and military veterans.
According to Holt, pilots who finish the program will be available to enter the workforce, but they will also, for a certain amount of time, remain at Embry-Riddle as instructors and assistant staff. Paying their way forward to the next lineup of pilots in training right behind them. For the university and the industry, this will create a continuous pipeline of new and highly trained pilots ready to fill the anticipated gap the industry is facing.