Ravn Air and UAA launch first paid pilot training program

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaskans hoping to become professional pilots can now go to school for it while getting paid. It's a new internship program offered by UAA in partnership with Ravn Air aimed to bolster recruitment in a field that's in high demand in the state.

It's the first aviation degree plus paid pilot internship training program in the nation. One that allows students to simultaneously complete their aviation degree, while getting jobs, and getting paid as regional airline pilots.

"First-year pay is about $36,000 a year, plus we have a $15,000 annual retention bonus. So the first year would be about $51 thousand, says Deke Abbott, Senior Vice President of Flight Operations for Ravn Air Group. "They will be in school earning that kind of money while they're still a second-semester senior, or second semester of their associate's degree."

Students in their final semester will get to put their skills to practical use as full-time Ravn second-in-command pilots.

"They're issued their degree, and they stay right on the job, said Abbott. "They keep right on moving up the seniority list and flying. There's no break in service. There's no break in between graduating and finding a job type (of) arrangement."

It's a job that's in high demand. According to the FAA, over the last three decades, the number of pilots has decreased by 30 percent.

"All of the projections are that the aviation industry is in dire need of pilots, mechanics, all aviation workers, so this was just another opportunity to entice students to basically see what the goal was," said Paul Herrick, Director of Aviation Technology Division at UAA. "It lets them see the finish line. Here's where you're headed, and letting them see that as early as possible by going to work for Ravn."

President and CEO of Ravn Air Group, Dave Pflieger says this partnership is all about creating more jobs for Alaskans, in Alaska.

"It's a win-win for everyone involved," Pflieger said. "First and foremost, the student, secondly the university, and third, the airline. So by doing this in the state of Alaska, with Alaskans, our hope and goal is to get students straight out of UAA into an airline job, in an airline that's based in flying in the state."

The university says if it sees enough interest early on, the program could start as soon as the Fall 2019 semester.

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