KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Western Michigan University College of Aviation has partnered with another airline to create a student-to-pilot pipeline.
Students who are part of the program will get a mentor from Allegiant, could become Allegiant cadets during their senior year at school and could be hired as a first officer following graduation. WMU said 13 of its students are already cadets and two of those have started first officer training.
“You spend some time with your mentor, with the air carrier and then you would move to Allegiant,” Raymond Thompson, dean of WMU College of Aviation, explained. “(You) probably get additional training like you would at any airline and then begin flying in the right seat of a transport aircraft.”
Allegiant operates a point-to-point model with two aircraft types in its fleet, limited routes and no regional jets, which in itself presents a unique student-to-pilot pipeline.
“This program provides an excellent opportunity for talented and motivated students to pursue their dream of becoming a first officer with a major airline without the need to fly for a regional carrier,” Tyler Hollingsworth, Allegiant’s vice president of flight crew operations, said in a statement. “Bypassing this step means pilots will enjoy the benefits only a commercial carrier can offer. We look forward to welcoming our future first officers and supporting them through their training and career with Allegiant.”
That option is appealing to some student pilots, who also say it changes the game for them.
“Allegiant just gives you a little bit different quality of life, where you can be home every night because their system promotes out-and-back routes,” graduate Natalie Baker said.
“It’s not very common,” sophomore Makayla Hodges added. “It’s very appealing for a lot of students here. Because you don’t really get that with some of our other pathway programs.”
WMU already partners with a few other airlines to get students in to the workforce quickly, including Delta, United, AAR, SkyWest and AMT.
The university says airlines are short on crew amid high demand for travel.