Local & Regional
5:50 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

American Eagle, Spartan College Announce Pilot Pipeline

Spartan College President and CEO Peter Harris (foreground, left) shakes hands Wednesday with American Eagle Director of Pilot Recruitment Nick Brice after the men signed agreements for the pilot pipeline program. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett (background, left) and Justin McLauglin, Tulsa Regional Chamber's senior vice president of economic development, were among the local officials in attendance.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa-based Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology announced a partnership today with regional carrier American Eagle Airlines.  

College president and CEO Peter Harris said the new pilot pipeline program gives students a better shot at a job and gives the airline the pilots it needs.

"The pilot pipeline program means that Spartan can do what we do best, which is to recruit, and train, and retain pilots as a workforce pipeline for the American Eagle network and for one of Tulsa's largest employers," Harris said.

Once eligible students graduate, they'll get a conditional offer from American Eagle — American Airlines' regional carrier — as either a commercial pilot or an instructor.

Pilots are guaranteed an interview with American Airlines within two years.

The Federal Aviation Administration will allow Spartan graduates to take their Airline Transport Pilot certifications with 1,000 flight hours instead of 1,500. American Eagle pilot recruiter Nick Brice said these kinds of agreements help the airline keep up its ranks.

"We've done the 750 for the military folks. We've done the 1,000 for people here at Spartan. We've done the 1,250 for the people, say, at, like, TCC," Brice said. "All of our pilot recruiters are all real knowledgeable on all the requirements that we need to, because I don't want to waste anyone's time when I put them in a class."

Airlines in the U.S. are struggling to employ enough pilots because of tougher federal regulations, international competition for American pilots and thousands of senior pilots nearing mandatory retirement age.