Students eligible for takeoff sooner

A plane lands at the Andrews University Airpark.

BERRIEN SPRINGS — Students in the Andrews University Department of Aviation now can save 500 hours of flight training and related costs as they meet the requirements to become an airline pilot.

The department has received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to “certify graduates ... for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate [ATP] with reduced aeronautical experience.”

“Our goal is to provide our flight students with state-of-the-art training that culminates with pilots that demonstrate outstanding quality in the industry,” Ralph Trecartin, associate provost and dean of the School of Business Administration, said in a news release. “This latest letter of authorization from the FAA is equivalent to a seal of approval. It shows that we are accomplishing our quality goals. While we focus on quality, we are also concerned with the costly nature of aviation training.”

Typically, according to the release, students pursuing a basic airline pilot license must complete 1,500 hours of flight time to be eligible to take the airline pilot exam.

At the request of airlines, a few exemptions were developed, including an exemption stating students completing a four-year certified bachelor’s program would only be required to complete 1,000 flight hours – if the university’s aviation program is approved and has a certified flight school.

Five years ago, Andrews began the process of becoming a certified flight school – completing private and instrument requirements, and commercial flight requirements.

The FAA evaluated all classes taught as part of the program to be sure certain criteria were met. Andrews was granted the authority to issue waivers for the ATP certification with reduced aeronautical experience on Oct. 19.

Because of this certification, and the bachelor’s degree offered at Andrews, students who graduate from the Andrews aviation program must now complete only 1,000 flight hours to be eligible to take the ATP exam.

“We are the only Adventist flight program to have this reduction in flight hours – it saves approximately a year’s worth of time for our students between their graduation and working for the airlines,” said Duane Habenicht, airpark manager and chair of the Department of Aviation. “Most of our students, if they go through our program the way it’s designed, are able to graduate with 700-800 hours of flight time completed. Graduates would need an additional 4-6 months of additional flight time before taking the airline exam, though a few especially ambitious students have completed all of their hours before graduation.”

Trecartin emphasized the ability for aviation students to give back to those around them.

“Our mission is to help train students for ministry and service to others,” he said. “It is our hope that many of our students will choose to receive certifications in both aviation maintenance and aviation flight. We believe that our students can live lives of dedicated service to others whether in the most advanced airlines or in the most primitive airfields of the world.”

For more information, contact or 471-3632.