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Aerospace Engineering and Aviation Department Earns $25,000 Grant to Purchase Flight Simulators

Published February 3, 2021

Aeroscience Students Learning   
Pictured above, students in the aeroscience program work on measurements and conversions during class in September 2020 at the Hollenstein Career and Technology Center. 

Students in Hollenstein Career and Technology Center’s Aerospace Engineering and Aviation Department are one step closer to taking flight. American Airlines recently awarded a $25,000 grant to the department to purchase four Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved flight training simulators, or Basic Air Training Devices (BATDs). These devices will give students a more realistic, tactile flight experience, including emergency scenarios, to supplement their textbook training. Simulators are expected to arrive in the spring.

"Lectures, posters, online training and war stories are insufficient to keeping a student motivated to fly,” said Richard Griffith, HCTC aeroscience instructor. “The simulators will help them tie knowledge to reality so they can better assess flying as a possible career. “

The simulators allow students to earn some of the 1,500 required flight hours needed to become an airline pilot. This experience may help them when applying for the American Airlines Cadet Academy.

This year, the AA pilot recruiting team will interview 18 students, mostly juniors, to be considered for the program. The recruiting team will follow student progress before offering them a spot at the academy upon high school graduation. Since the academy began two years ago, four EMS ISD students have been accepted. The program accepts only 95 candidates yearly from an average of over 5,000 U.S. applicants.

“I am proud to say that these flight simulators are providing students hands-on learning and helping them decide if piloting is their passion,” said Director of Career and Technical Education Dana Eldredge. “It is our mission at HCTC to provide skills-based instruction, leading students to postsecondary education and careers.”

Once trained through the American Airlines Cadet Academy, students then become instructor pilots for the program with a beginning salary of $48,500. Instructors then continue teaching until they reach age 21 and have the FAA-required 1,500 hours. After earning the required hours, they can apply to become a copilot and earn up to $89,500. Beginning at age 22, the copilot could be promoted through AA with no further interview required, and the salary moves to airline’s $120,000 minimum.

Commercial airline piloting is one of the highest paying careers that doesn’t require a college diploma, according to USA Today.

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