A banner day.
That's how David Cole, director of Colorado Northwestern Community College's Aviation-Flight Technology Program, described a recently signed deal between the school and Mesa Air Group. Under the long-term agreement, signed in late April, the air group agrees to hire flight officer candidates from CNCC.
Cole said he was excited about the prospects now available to aviation program graduates.
"This is the first time in the 45-year history of the program that graduates have been able to proceed directly into the cockpits of the commuter airline jets," Cole said. "It is a banner day for the college and its flight program."
Mesa Air Group operates Mesa Airlines, United Express, Delta Connection, U.S. Airways Express, Air Midwest and Go Airlines.
CNCC's aviation program becomes one of six Federal Aviation Administration-approved flight schools across the country that Mesa Air Group hires from, CNCC officials said.
"Top flight graduates" from the CNCC program will have the opportunity to interview and begin work as flight officers for Mesa Air Group airlines. And the air group has wasted little time interviewing candidates.
Cole said seven CNCC flight graduates interviewed April 30; four of them begin airline training in June and the remaining three will do the same after a year of flight instruction.
The college, Cole said, is discussing similar agreements with Trans State Airlines and American Eagle Airlines.
Cole said airlines expect "robust growth" in the next 3 to 5 years and are hiring 300 to 500 flight officers each by the end of the year to keep up with an increase in worldwide airline passenger traffic.