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Aviation Partnerships with Community Colleges Speed Transition to Skies

Aviation Partnerships with Community Colleges Speed Transition to Skies

Do you want to fly airplanes? Studies suggest almost 500,000 pilots are going to be needed over the next 20 years.

Eastern Kentucky University now boasts the nation’s first FAA-approved 1,000-hour power, 2+2 degree pathway, and it is easily accessible across the Commonwealth, thanks to EKU’s partnerships with four institutions in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System: Ashland, Owensboro, Hazard and Middlesboro.

Those four community and technical colleges were selected because of their proximity to airports, which obviously play a critical role in the arrangement, as well as the colleges’ interest in adding aviation coursework opportunities for their students.

The bottom line is that graduates of the EKU aviation program now have a quicker, more convenient and less expensive path to the airways as licensed pilots, with a four-year college degree to further enhance their career opportunities.

In 2013, after multiple revisions were made to the University’s bachelor’s degree program in aviation (professional flight concentration) to meet the FAA’s eight new academic requirements, the FAA granted EKU special authority. This authority allowed Eastern to designate its Aviation-Professional Flight baccalaureate graduates as eligible to take the restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) check ride at 1,000 total flight hours, instead of waiting until they reached 1,500 total aircraft hours.

The FAA has also recently added EKU’s Aviation-Aerospace Technology (AT) degree to its federal register of approved “1,000-hour power” degrees. This 2+2 AT degree was originally designed as a degree-completion concentration for Kentucky community college students completing their two-year studies in airframes and power plants (A&P), air traffic control (ATC), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). In order to extend degree-completion flight opportunities to community college students interested in pursuing their FAA flight certificates at a KCTCS campus, minor changes were made to the AT concentration.

Now, with this most recent FAA approval, community college students in Kentucky and across the U.S. can complete their FAA private pilot through instructor pilot certificates and ratings, their associate degree, their bachelor’s degree, and simultaneously earn their 1,000-hour power certificate, all by partnering with EKU Aviation.

Students participating in the 2+2 aviation partnership will earn an associate degree at one of the four partnering community and technical colleges, where they complete their lower-division college courses taught by community college faculty. Simultaneously, they will take lower-division aviation courses taught by local instructors hired through EKU. Ultimately, they will complete the upper-division baccalaureate degree courses by taking entirely online courses through Eastern.

“It’s our goal to have partnerships with all community colleges co-located with a regional airport,” said Ralph Gibbs, director of EKU’s Aviation Program. “I’d love to see Kentucky become the state of choice where people go to get an aviation degree in flight.”

Aviation Program

For more information, contact Ralph Gibbs at donald.gibbs@eku.edu.

Published on February 27, 2015

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