ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — Aviation students at Elizabeth City State University just earned a top spot as future United Airlines pilots.
In a release sent Tuesday, ECSU officials say they have partnered with United Airlines to help train the next generation of pilots, which will have direct access to a job offer from United Airlines themselves.
“It is a very big deal for students,” explained Dr. Kuldeep Rawat, the dean of ECSU’s aviation school. “We are talking about partnering with a major U.S. airline, not only U.S., but one of the major airlines in the world.”
The partnership between ECSU and United Airlines will offer aviation students support and coaching on their way to becoming United Airlines pilots including access to senior leadership, site visits and tours, and even travel privileges.
ECSU is one of several Historically Black Colleges and Universities that are working with the airline for the program, which aims to train 5,000 pilots this decade.
ECSU’s signature aviation program is the only four-year aviation degree program in North Carolina. And it’s growing rapidly, doubling enrollment number in just the past few years. The flight school has Federal Aviation Administration certifications and 12 training planes.
Plus, tuition there is about half the cost of competitors.
“It just opens up so many opportunities to have a great time and do a lot it’s just awesome,” said college senior and flight instructor Zakary Stewart.
Aleathia Hudson is a first-year flight student at ECSU is excited about training to become a pilot.
“It’s like amazing to fly everyday or as much as you can. Defying the laws of physics every day,” she said.
Officials from United Airlines say the pilots they train will be guaranteed a job with United after they complete the requirements for the aviation program. Their plan is to have 50% of those future pilots be women and people of color — which is one reason Rawat says United chose to work with ECSU.
“So we met all the requirements and we also are a university focused on diversifying the aviation workforce,” said Rawat.
Rawat says the partnership is the most direct path for students to fly for United.
Rawat says it’s also the quickest progression from college to the rank of first officer of any major airline program in the industry.
Plus, DRawat predicts the demand for pilots is going to increase.
“The data is showing us in the next 10 years itself the number of people traveling is going to increase, number of aircraft purchases by airlines is going to increase and a lot of pilots are now coming to the age that they will be retiring.”
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