KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation is the first collegiate program in the nation to be part of an American Eagle Airlines pilot-hiring program that will make new WMU graduates American Eagle employees on loan back to their alma mater as flight instructors.
The Pilot Pipeline Program agreement, announced April 5 during the college's annual Aviation Outlook Day, means that American Airlines affiliate American Eagle will identify potential employees as early as their sophomore year in college and work with them through graduation. Once the new pilots have earned their bachelor's degrees, they will become American Eagle employees with medical and travel benefits while they are on loan to WMU as flight instructors. That will allow them to continue to accrue additional flight hours.
When the new American Eagle employee has reached the flight hours needed to quality for an Airline Transport Pilot rating, the young pilot will step into a new hiring class at American Eagle and begin receiving a $10,000 scholarship paid as a monthly stipend over a two-year period. That young pilot will also be guaranteed an interview with American Airlines.
"We've had a wonderful relationship with WMU over the years and have been extraordinarily pleased with the caliber of the graduates we've hired from its flight program," says Nicholas Alford, American Eagle's manager of pilot recruitment. "This is an important initiative for our company, and we are pleased that WMU will have the opportunity to become the first higher education partner to help fill our pilot pipeline with the best young flight professionals."
The purpose of the program is to provide American Eagle with a steady supply of airline-qualified pilots through specific recruitment, screening, selection, training and placement strategies for pilots to be employed by the airline.
"This is a phenomenal opportunity for aviation students who meet American Eagle's demanding standards," says Steve Jones, executive director of flight operations at WMU's aviation college. "This will allow graduates to continue refining their skills while they provide an important training resource for the college. And in the end, American will have some of the finest young professionals to fill the company's future flight needs."
Once a student is accepted in the program, both the University and American Eagle will monitor their progress and provide mentoring opportunities to ensure they satisfy the requirements of the pipeline program. The student selected must meet the same standards as other American Eagle pilot applicants, and they must earn their commercial, instrument and multi-engine flight ratings at WMU.
Eligible students will have at least sophomore status and have a 2.5 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 GPA in their major, and they must be enrolled in WMU's professional aviation pilot program. Once selected, both WMU and American Eagle will monitor their attendance records, traffic violations, FAA actions, flight training records and any criminal records. Additional requirements for students must be met at each stage of the pipleline program.
Operating more than 1,800 flights a day to 159 cities across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, the American Eagle network is the largest regional airline system in the world. American Eagle operates from four hubs at Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and New York (at both Kennedy and LaGuardia airports).