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Two Arizona universities to offer transitional cadet program for flight students

(Facebook/Envoy Pilot Recruitment)

PHOENIX — Two Arizona universities are offering a new cadet program that aims to help prospective pilots move from the classroom to the cockpit.

Arizona State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, are two of the more than 40 flight schools and universities across the country offering the program run by Envoy Air, a regional carrier owned by American Airlines.

The program offers cadets mentorships and internships with airline industry experts as well as tuition reimbursement as a cadet achieves more certifications.

“The Envoy cadet program allows us to ease the financial burden faced by aspiring pilots wanting to pursue this career, while simultaneously giving Envoy access to some of the nation’s top aviation talent,” said Captain Ric Wilson, Envoy’s Vice President of Flight Operations.

Some regional airlines have struggled to find pilots in recent years. Prospective pilots are required to reach 1,500 hours of flight time before becoming a first officer with an airline, with some exceptions.

The Airline Pilots Association reported several regional airlines pay first officers under $21,000 during their first year of flying.

Juan Merkt, chair of the department of aeronautical science at Embry Riddle University, said this program is very timely amidst a growing need for pilots.

“It’s a win-win for both the universities who are recruiting and retaining quality students and for the airlines who are obviously going to be the recipients of this cream of the crop [of] qualified candidates to fly for the airlines,” Merkt said.

Mark O’Brien, chair of the aviation programs at Arizona State University, said this program is a great chance for cadets.

“It’s a great opportunity for a student to complete their education at Arizona State University and then move right into a career path that takes them directly to American Airlines,” O’Brien said.

Envoy Air is currently hiring over 30 pilots a month. Envoy first officers are projected to upgrade to captain in two and a half years and could be flying for American Airlines in just five years.

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