Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

March 6, 2014

Aviation agreement takes off

TRAVERSE CITY — Will Bennett doesn’t want to spend his future saddled to a desk from 9-to-5 every day.

It’s one reason he’s training to be a pilot in Northwestern Michigan College’s Aviation Program.

“Every day is going to present different situations,” Bennett, 20, said as he stood on the runway outside the program’s hangar Wednesday afternoon. “It’s nice not going into an office and doing the same thing every day.”

But Bennett needs to land a job as a pilot in order to avoid the daily office grind, and a new partnership between NMC and a Texas-based regional air carrier should help aviation careers like his take off.

NMC officials and officials from American Eagle airline will ink a “pipeline agreement” today that guarantees aviation students a job interview with the airline — and a $10,000 signing bonus for the aspiring pilots who land a position.

Alex Bloye, chief flight instructor of NMC’s Aviation Program, said the deal with American Eagle was free for NMC, and provides second-year aviation students a “realistic employment opportunity” with an airline when they finish their education.

“It keeps their motivation up,” Bloye said. “It give them something to shoot for. It gives them an end result to their training.”

Aviation students usually graduate in two years, but most will need to spend about 18 months logging hours as a flight instructor to qualify for a job with American Eagle.

Bloye said students can simultaneously pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an aviation focus from Davenport University. Those who complete both requirements will qualify for a job offer and the signing bonus, which Bloye said is double the signing bonuses usually offered by American Eagle.

“They like our standardization,” he said of American Eagle officials. “They like our philosophy and training. Our curriculum has been proven time and time again.”

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