Horizon Air funds CWU pilot development program; donates $10K flight simulator

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Horizon Air, the regional airline flying as Alaska Airlines, and Central Washington University have signed an agreement to establish a pilot development program, which will...

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Horizon Air, the regional airline flying as Alaska Airlines, and Central Washington University have signed an agreement to establish a pilot development program, which will provide a stipend to students pursuing an aviation career. This program is designed to recruit new students into CWU’s Professional Pilot program and provide students with an opportunity to fly as a First Officer/Pilot with Horizon Air.

Recently the Boeing Company estimated that the world will need 558,000 commercial airline pilots over the next 20 years—about 28,000 more pilots each year.

“With the looming pilot shortage, Horizon needs to partner with quality aviation programs, such as CWU, to enhance our recruiting strategy and ensuring the next generation of pilots look to Horizon as a place they can build their career in aviation,” said LaMar Haugaard, Horizon Air director of pilot development and recruiting.

“The time to recruit a new pilot is several years before they graduate and thanks to our partnership we are confident it will result in a steady supply of well-trained pilots and help increase our ability to better predict additional hiring needs.”

The new pilot development program will permit up to 17 students to apply for and receive a stipend, administered by the CWU Foundation, to be used for training fees and expenses related to completing their Commercial Flight Instructor certificate. The students will then receive a conditional job offer from Horizon Air, which will commit them to a term of employment with the company.

This agreement also ensures that graduating students will serve in the CWU flight training facility as certified flight instructors until they accumulate 1,000 flight hours in their log book prior to joining Horizon Air. This arrangement serves well to have adequate flight instructors in place to train the incoming students at CWU.

Horizon has committed to the 2016 academic year and is already drawing up plans for 2017.

“Central was naturally our first choice for a university partner,” said Haugaard. “They have a top-notch program and graduate quality pilots right here in Washington state.”

“This is tremendous opportunity for our students,” said Sundaram Nataraja, chair and professor of the Department of Aviation. “Not only will they receive a generous stipend for their training fees, but they will also have a job offer from an airline waiting for them after completing their program.”

In addition to the pilot development program, Horizon Air donated a $10,000 flight simulator to CWU’s Flight Training Center.

This enhances CWU formidable battery of flight-training devices. Currently, CWU is the only place on the West Coast where aviation students can experience the CRJ-200 turbo-jet trainer, airline style curriculum and the advanced turboprop flight trainer.

According to Nataraja, the extra equipment couldn’t come at a better time—more than 100 new students have enrolled in aviation majors this year, and he foresees that number more than doubling in the next few years. To accommodate the demand, CWU is requesting $9.9 million in state funding to expand the current Flight Training Center, which will include:

  • A custom modular addition to the facility that will increase classroom and training space in the current Flight Training Center by 3,600 GSF. The addition will allow the program to double capacity to 400 students and will provide capacity for a master's degree in aviation now under development.
  • A 12,800 GSF, fireproof hangar. About 8,000 SF of the hangar will house four airplanes. The remaining 4,800 SF would be used for flight operations: two dispatch offices, a scheduling office, 10 briefing rooms, 40 flight instructor work stations, and restrooms.

“The pilot development program and the addition of a new flight simulator highlight our valuable relationship with Horizon Air,” Nataraja said. “Our students and our program will benefit from their generous support.”

About Central Washington University Aviation Program

CWU’s aviation program enrolls about 100 students annually who collectively fly nearly 6,800 hours per year. CWU is the only public university in the Pacific Northwest that offers a bachelor’s degree in aviation.

About Horizon Air

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, Inc. and flies to 39 cities across the United States and Canada as Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines flies 32 million customers a year to more than 110 cities with an average of 970 daily flights throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and soon Cuba. With Alaska’s global airline partners, customers can earn and redeem miles to more than 800 destinations worldwide. Alaska Airlines is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group. Learn more at alaskaair.com.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu