New aviation program at LSU Alexandria ready for take off | Louisiana News

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By MELINDA MARTINEZ, Conference on the city of Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (AP) – Students who want to fly in friendly skies won’t have to travel far with the addition of a new aviation program at LSU Alexandria. The program will allow them to graduate and become professional pilots.

From now on, students can register at LSU Alexandria and take the courses applicable to the program. The Introduction to Aerospace course will be offered in the fall.

“The program offered by the LSUA leads to a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Eamon Halpin, associate vice-chancellor and vice-chancellor for academic affairs at the LSUA. “This is a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a concentration in professional aviation.

To find out more about the program, an Aviation Open Day was held at Million Air on England Airpark for prospective students and parents. Another open house is scheduled for August.

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From the turnout it is clear that there is huge interest.

“Look what’s going on here,” Halpin said, glancing around the room. “We are happy to see so many students and parents here asking questions about the program. I don’t think we really expected that number.

“It’s amazing,” said Michael Jacob Fisher, a student at Central Louisiana Technical Community College.

The only other university in the state that has an aviation program is Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Fisher said. Students interested in obtaining an aviation degree should therefore go there.

“It’s great to have something here – local,” he said. “And be able to jump on this opportunity. I would expect it to be at a larger four-year university. It’s great to see it.

He said he would likely go to the field after graduation.

For Frank Lemoine, a second year student at LSUA, having a program like this at LSUA makes it easier for him to stay at home and close to his family.

“The LSUA Professional Pilot Program is part of a larger economic development initiative called ACE and stands for Aviation Careers in Education,” said Sandra McQuain, Executive Director of England Airpark. “This is a partnership between England Airpark, LSU Alexandria and the Central Louisiana Technical Community College.”

The aim of the initiative is to offer potential students the opportunity to develop a career in aviation.

Halpin said McQuain and others told him there has been a severe shortage of pilots for several years and that industry experts predict a need for 260,000 pilots over the next decade.

McQuain met with the Chancellor of the LSUA, Paul Coreil, the Chancellor of the CLTCC, Dr Jimmy Sawtelle, and others to think about how to start an aviation program.

“They urged us to consider developing a program,” said Halpin. ” We did it. They supported the efforts. Million Air, the service company that operates here, has also been very supportive. And so we think it’s a very opportune time for young people to start a career in aviation due to the expected demand for pilots.

And because of this demand, he believes student pilots will receive higher salaries.

Most pilots are Vietnamese-era pilots who are retiring because they have reached the mandatory retirement age of 65, said Raja Gharazeddine, owner and operator of Acadian Aviation of Lafayette. And the military is no longer training pilots, so it’s up to civilians to do it.

This contributes to what Gharazeddine says is a “very serious pilot shortage”.

Aviation students will follow ground flight instructions at the LSUA campus on US 71, but the actual flight instructions will be at England Airpark with Gharazeddine.

In 2008, Gharazeddine started Acadian Aviation in Abbeville and moved the flight school to Lafayette in 2015. Since then, they have continued to grow and opportunities have brought them to Alexandria.

“We initially moved a satellite operation to Alexandria to work with soldiers from Fort Polk who were following accredited programs offered by the military,” he said.

England Airpark then told him that LSUA was interested in starting an aviation program, so he met Halpin. For the past two years, they have been working on a study program.

Halpin said that students who complete the program earn four basic grades and certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“They will have a private pilot license. They will have an instrument pilot qualification. A commercial pilot license and a flight instructor certification, ”he said. In addition, there will be three optional ratings: Multi-Engine Pilot Rating, Multi-Engine Instrument and Flight Instructor Instrument.

“Thus, students who complete this program will be ready to pursue careers as multi-engine commercial pilots and flight instructors,” he said.

Air travel has also grown significantly, shifting from regional air carriers to domestic air carriers, Gharazeddine said.

“The focus is on the training of professional pilots and the diploma program,” he said. “This is a requirement for domestic airlines or what we call ‘legacy’ airlines.”

These pilots must have at least a bachelor’s degree in addition to flight qualifications and certificates.

Louisiana Tech has so far been the only university in the state to offer an aviation degree so far.

“And Louisiana Tech is almost at full capacity,” Gharazeddine said.

“So we’re not really competing with them because there are enough students for everyone,” added Halprin.

“A lot of Louisiana students are leaving the state to get their bachelor’s degree with a flight training certificate, so it would be a good opportunity to keep them in the state,” Gharazeddine said.

McQuain said future plans for ACE include creating the ACE Aviation Center which would be a training center at the Airpark. Eventually, they would add an FAA A&P approved mechanical school and construction of a widebody hangar that will provide facilities for modern aviation services and businesses.

A&P stands for “airframe” and “power plant” which are the external part of the aircraft and the engine.

“Our hope is to get these graduates out on the streets, whether they are certified A&P mechanics, pilots, aviation professionals – that we will be able to attract and grow an aviation economy here in downtown. Louisiana, ”McQuain said.

“Even before today’s open house, Raja and I were both contacted by potential students and parents who were really interested in this program, so we think the potential for growth is really there,” he said. Halpin said.

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