LeTourneau University signs agreement for pilot pipeline - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

LeTourneau University signs agreement with American Eagle Airlines for pilot pipeline

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From left, American Eagle Airlines Captain Richard King, LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford and LETU School of Aeronautical Science dean Fred Ritchey address the crowd of students, faculty and staff at the Abbott Center at East Texas Regional Airport. From left, American Eagle Airlines Captain Richard King, LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford and LETU School of Aeronautical Science dean Fred Ritchey address the crowd of students, faculty and staff at the Abbott Center at East Texas Regional Airport.
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Released by LeTourneau University

LONGVIEW (KYTX) - LeTourneau University and American Eagle Airlines signed an agreement Monday, Oct. 28, to provide a direct pathway for selected LETU flight students to find employment with American Eagle Airlines after graduation.

LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford and American Eagle Captain Richard King signed the letter of agreement that states that LETU and AEA will collaborate "to facilitate a steady supply of airline qualified pilots through specific recruitment, screening, selection, training, and placement strategies for pilots to be employed by AEA," which is known as the Pilot Pipeline Program.

"This historic agreement we signed today will facilitate a pipeline for qualified LeTourneau University pilots who graduate from our flight program here to transition seamlessly into a career as an airline pilot and fly as first officers for American Eagle Airlines," said LETU President Dr. Dale A. Lunsford. "LETU's aviation program is built on excellence and on great partnerships.  Today we celebrate this new partnership with the airline that serves our own great community. It is a testament to the quality of the pilots our school produces."

LETU's Dean of the School of Aeronautical Science Fred Ritchey added that the agreement benefits the university's flight training program, as well.

"This new partnership agreement will provide an incentive for graduates to remain at the university and provide valuable service as flight instructors while gaining the flight experience required to become an airline pilot," Ritchey said. 

American Eagle Captain Richard King complimented LETU on its beautiful campus, excellent facilities and outstanding aircraft.

"We have seen some of our best and brightest come from LeTourneau, and we are very excited to continue and expand our relationship with LeTourneau and we look forward to seeing many more of you at American Eagle Airlines."

The program includes four phases.  LETU will recommend and AEA will interview eligible students who elect to enter the Pipeline Program, where AEA and LETU will monitor their performance. Students will attend mentoring events at the academy sponsored by AEA and the university.  Students will need to satisfy Pipeline Student Requirements to move to the second phase.

In the second phase, if LETU has a certified flight instructor position open, the university shall guarantee an interview for students in the pipeline program. Students must have completed the CFE course for the opportunity to be hired by AEA as a Pipeline Instructor and placed by AEA at LETU to provide certified flight instruction services.

The candidate must be successful in meeting LETU's requirements as a certified flight instructor and maintain these requirements while providing such services to the university. If LETU does not have a CFI position available, AEA will attempt to place the candidate in a certified flight instructor position with another flight school affiliating with the pipeline program. Once the candidate is placed in a flight school as a certified flight instructor, AEA will enter into an employment agreement with the pipeline instructor to be an employee of American Eagle Airlines, eligible for health benefits an travel privileges, and if hired by American Eagle Airlines as a first officer, the individual will remain in that position for two years from the start of First Officer training. 

In the third phase, once the pipeline instructor completes the Federal Aviation Administration's required flight hours for commercial passenger airline pilots, if American Eagle Airlines is hiring first officers at that time, it will admit such Pipeline Instructor in AEA's First Officer training program.  Pipeline Instructors who enter into First Officer training and sign a two-year letter of commitment will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

The fourth phase of the agreement includes a guaranteed interview with American Airlines, which has agreed to grant interviews to all pilots hired by American Eagle after October 2011.

Requirements for students to be eligible for inclusion in the pipeline program include the following: Students must be at least a sophomore enrolled in LETU's professional aviation pilot program with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA and minimum 3.0 GPA in their cumulative aviation courses.  They must hold at least an instrument rating and sign a release form authorizing AEA to review his or her academic, aeronautical and other university and FAA records.  They must complete their commercial, instrument, multi-engine certificates and ratings at LETU and complete LETU's Advanced Airtransport Pilot Curriculum.

Students also must be U.S. citizens or possess the legal right to work in the U.S. including the right to travel to and from the cities American Eagle serves.  They must also successfully complete a list of tests and panel interviews. The student will be monitored by AEA and LETU for attendance, traffic violations, FAA actions, flight training records and criminal records.  Upon the successful completion of the student phase, they will be given a conditional offer of employment for a Pipeline Instructor position with American Eagle.

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