The Leadership In Flight Training (LIFT) Academy in Indianapolis is partnering with Indiana Wesleyan University to help students earn degrees while taking flight training. LIFT says the partnership allows the academy to tap into a new pool of students.
Through the program, the partners say students can earn a two-year or four-year degree while simultaneously working toward earning their commercial pilot’s license and FAA ratings.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, IWU Director of Aviation Programs Joe Childs said students will have a partner that can connect them to an aviation career.
“LIFT Academy is a leader in providing quality flight training, education and experiences to train pilots for the airline industry. So, it gives our students a pathway and an option to work with them,” said Childs. “Also, it provides us an opportunity to serve the LIFT Academy students by providing them a two-year or a four-year college degree in an aviation-related field, which will help to accelerate their field even more.”
LIFT Academy was launched by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways in 2018 in an effort to address what was described as a critical pilot shortage.
Childs says having a degree program creates other benefits for students.
“Students can access federal financial aid and other student loan products to be able to finance their flight training and their education. So, this partnership helps to broaden the financial access to those who aspire to be pilots. The other thing that it does is down the road, students in these programs will be able to enter the airlines with fewer flight hours if they have a college degree.”
The program is designed to have the students begin their education with LIFT Academy full-time. Once they become flight instructors and have more flexibility, they can take IWU courses – ranging from English and math to meteorology and U.S. aviation operation – all online.”
Students who complete the two-year program will be able to pursue professional pilot jobs and other careers in the industry. The four-year program will provide students with a degree in aviation management. Graduates from either program will earn an FAA-issued private pilot certificate, instrument rating, and commercial certificate.
The academy says graduates of the program can move directly to the flight deck of a Republic Airways Embraer aircraft.
Ed Bagden, director of operations and academic programs at LIFT, says partnerships such as this are integral to the academy’s success.
“Some of our students come straight into the LIFT program out of high school, but a lot of them have already earned a four-year degree or two-year degree elsewhere. It’s for those students that are looking to get that aviation-focused degree training experience. That’s something that we weren’t able to provide in the past but we can now provide through partnerships like this one.”
Childs says they hope to see the first round of students participating in the program next month and scale up next spring.
LIFT Academy has similar partnerships Ivy Tech Community College, which will offer a Professional Flight Associate of Applied Science degree. The academy also has a partnership with Cape Air in which graduates have another pathway into the airline industry.