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Lehigh Carbon Community College Aviation Program Partners with Airline

By Colin McEvoy on August 18, 2016

The Lehigh Carbon Community College aviation program and ExpressJet Airlines have entered into a pilot pathway agreement. (photo by André Du-pont, of Mexico Air Spotters, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Lehigh Carbon Community College aviation program and ExpressJet Airlines have entered into a pilot pathway agreement. (photo by André Du-pont, of Mexico Air Spotters, via Wikimedia Commons)

Just six months after announcing a major expansion to its aviation program, the Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) is partnering with ExpressJet Airlines to provide future employment for its aviation students and help build a hiring pool of pilots for the airline.

LCCC and ExpressJet entered into a pilot pathway agreement this month, under which students who complete the college’s professional pilot program will be guaranteed an early interview and conditional offer of employment with the airline.

“Our pilots of tomorrow are vital not only to the aviation industry, but the commercial transportation sector as a whole,” said Darrin Greubel, Director of Flight Operations at ExpressJet Airlines. “It is important that we do everything we can to ensure our future pilots and instructors are properly equipped with the knowledge and resources available to be successful.”

Lehigh Carbon Community College President Ann Bieber (seated, left) and Joey Cook, ExpressJet captain and program manager for the pilot pathway agreement program (seated, right) during the ceremony where the agreement was finalized this month.

Lehigh Carbon Community College President Ann Bieber (seated, left) and Joey Cook, ExpressJet captain and program manager for the pilot pathway agreement program (seated, right) during the ceremony where the agreement was finalized this month.

This marks continued growth for the LCCC aviation program, which announced in February that it has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to offer flight training, in addition to the ground instruction it had already provided since 1989.

Through the pilot pathway agreement with ExpressJet, students will continue to flight instruct at LCCC until they meet the required hours to be hired at ExpressJet, according to the college. Students are also assigned an ExpressJet pilot to serve as a mentor to them.

Aram Basmadjian, chief flight instructor at LCCC, said more than 30,000 pilots, or half of the current total pilots employed by the ten largest airlines in the United States, will reach mandatory retirement age within the next ten years.

“There has never been a better time to prepare for entering the workforce as a pilot,” Basmadjian said. “The FAA recently granted LCCC the authority to certify our graduates for the Restricted Airline Transport Pilot certificate with just 1250 flight hours. This, along with the ExpressJet pathway agreement, provides our aviation students with an extraordinary opportunity.”

ExpressJet Airlines is affiliated with American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines, and has pilot pathway agreements in place with most of the major aviation training programs in the United States. Greubel said it provides a clear path for students from partner schools to go from the training into the profession.

“ExpressJet values the investment students make in their aviation career, and the Airline Pilot Pathway Program partnership with Lehigh Carbon Community College ensures that in return for their investment they have a secure future with ExpressJet upon successful completion of training,” he said.

LCCC’s aviation program is based at the Lehigh Valley International Airport. Prior to receiving FAA approval to offer flight instruction, students took their ground training at LCCC, then would have to transfer to an outside flight school to complete the flight training requirements for their degree.

Now, students have the opportunity to complete all of the training requirements at LCCC, and can earn their commercial license in as little as 190 hours, according to the college.

Each student who completes the program will earn a commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating and a certified flight instructor certificate along with an associate degree as a professional pilot, according to LCCC.

With these certificates, graduates can be employed as a flight instructor, charter pilot or corporate pilot. They can also transfer to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in aviation science.

The aviation industry is important for regional economy development. It employs more than 100,000 people in the United States and contributes $10.8 billion to the national economy, including $5.5 billion for airport management and operations, and $5.3 billion for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.

Transportation resources is also an important resource for site selectors and businesses considering a new location. A 2016 Area Development survey found accessibility to a major airport is considered important or very important to more than 44 percent of responding site selectors, more important than corporate tax rates, union presence, and energy availability and costs.

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