Three Creative Efforts Assuring the Future of Aviation
There, unfortunately, are cracks growing within the aviation industry over 21AIRR. There was a time when solidarity was more prevalent. Our business is experiencing a lot of exciting innovation; so that news may attract the next generation of aviators. There is some debate (low pay, restrictive rules, costs of training, etc.) on whether the future cadre of pilots, mechanics and other professionals will be adequate.
There is good news about independent, quite different efforts to encourage prospective aviators to our business. Here are three examples:
EAA, an aviation association on the purest flying end of the spectrum of stakeholder organizations, is sponsoring the Young Eagles (for almost 25 years) and the EAA Air Academy. The first offers free flights to youngsters (8-17 year old) who will “catch” the aviation bug from the experience (the goal).
The Academy (ages 2-18) takes this air entrée to another level. The prospective flyers are invited to stay at the EAA Air Academy Lodge in Oshkosh. The EAA team of aviation instructors help the kids through a variety of exposures— class studies, hands-on demonstrations, flight simulation, and other learning experiences. There are Young Eagle camp, Basic Camp and Advanced Camps.
The article includes an interview with one of the Academy students.
EAA’s track record in interesting youth to aviation has been exceptional.
As chronicled by a local Houston TV station, United offers a two-month program giving the students a glimpse into a commercial pilot’s life. The airline provides the college students a summer job in which they rotate through a different area of operations. At the end of the experience they have walked through a good spectrum of the business.
Tahchiona Smith, pictured above, is a 20 year old in aviation science major at Texas Southern University. She participated in the United Summer Associates program. Her interest in flight predates this summer exposure; as a young girl, she was at an airport, watching the airplanes take off and land and from there it just “skyrocketed.”
United First Officer Sarah Bull was Tahchiona’s mentor and she explained the realities of her career. Her student repeated her teacher’s lesson. “When I got the chance to meet an African American female she told me the struggles that she faced through her career as well as mine. When I met her, I was like, ‘Wow, I really can do this, this is really amazing.’”
By getting a realistic view, Ms. Smith and her Summer Associates will have accurate expectations for their future airline jobs.
A very different approach in terms of the aviation professional target, the geographic location and the sponsorship was recently announced. Boeing with Enterprise Ireland and travel-tech firm Datalex established an Ireland-based accelerator with the moniker Propeller Shannon. Ten startups slots will be available for the aviation, aerospace and travel tech sectors. Both Irish and overseas companies are invited to participate in the three-month initiative, which will be based at a hub in the Shannon Free Zone business park next to Shannon Airport.
The project is being funded by Enterprise Ireland.
Boeing will mentor participants through its investment vehicle HorizonX. Datalex, a Dublin company, providing technology for airlines to sell airfares, in-flight meals and other add-ons – will also provide mentorship to companies that take part in the ‘Propeller’ program. Shannon Group’s International Aviation Services Centre – a hub for more than 60 aviation firms – and DCU Ryan Academy are also involved in the project.
The work product of Propeller Shannon may provide a model for other similar enterprises with any luck.
Such creative, dynamic outreach efforts assure that the future of aviation will be rich with talent.
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