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Embry-Riddle forms international partnership to address pilot shortage

(Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Photo)

PHOENIX – Arizona’s premier aeronautical university has a new international partner to help the airline industry brace itself for a projected pilot shortage.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announced it was teaming up with Korean Airlines on a career pathway program for pilots.

“The agreements have been signed, so hopefully they’ll be starting here a little bit more in earnest with the fall term,” Tim Holt, dean of Embry-Riddle’s College of Aviation, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

A press release said the program will produce up to 40 new pilots per year.

The Prescott school, which also has a campus in Daytona Beach, Florida, has similar programs with domestic carriers, but Korean Airlines is the first international partner.

According to Boeing, airlines will need 790,000 new aviators between now and 2037. The shortage is projected hit hardest in the Asia-Pacific region, which will need 261,000 new pilots.

Under the new agreement, which includes both campuses, Korean Air students will do more than just learn how to fly.

“They would stay with the university after they’re graduated, after they’ve completed all their ratings and qualified as instructor pilots,” Holt said. “Then they would also be, for a specified amount of time, staying with the university as instructors.”

“That way they pay it forward, as well.”

Holt said the program will improve the school’s quality of instruction, because with the demand so high, graduates usually “get plucked into industry pretty quick” after they become certified.

“So by having that continual pipeline, it gives us that quality flight instructor to benefit our current students as they’re looking to move into the instructor ranks and then into industry after that,” he said.

Embry-Riddle has the No. 1 undergraduate aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical program in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bob McClay contributed to this report.

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