The chief executive officer of Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. says the new LIFT Academy at Indianapolis International Airport will "solve a couple of challenges" for the airline. In addition to training, Bryan Bedford tells Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman it will let the airline introduce the idea of being a commercial pilot to middle and high school students who may see the idea as "unattainable and unaffordable."
Bedford says traditional flight schools can cost $80,000-$90,000, but he believes LIFT Academy can provide the training for under $65,000. He says the school will also offer financing help for families who qualify. Students who complete the program will earn a commercial pilot certification and a guaranteed job pathway with Republic Airways.
The initial goal, says Bedford, is to train 350-400 students per year. He says, when the Indianapolis International Airport location reaches capacity, the airline can replicate the model in other markets such as Louisville or Chicago.
Republic says the academy will help it address a "critical pilot shortage." The airline hires about 600 commercial pilots each year, and expects that number to grow by 50 percent over the next decade.
?Student enrollment is underway, with classes slated to begin in September.