WMU News

First Aer Lingus and British Airways cadets complete work at WMU, prepare for first officer roles

March 17, 1999

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- The first cadets trained under year-old contracts between Western Michigan University's International Pilot Training Centre and Aer Lingus and British Airways are completing their studies at WMU and have begun leaving the campus to complete their final weeks of training in the United Kingdom.

By June, 29 cadets, who had no flight experience before coming to WMU in 1998, will be serving as first officers on commercial passenger runs for their respective airlines. The cadets will fly as first officers with a training captain and another first officer sitting behind them in the cockpit during their initial flights. Thereafter, they will fly as first officers with a training captain before they assume normal duties with their airlines.

The first four Aer Lingus students left Feb. 26 to continue their studies at British Aerospace Flight Training Ltd. at Prestwick in the United Kingdom. The remaining members of Shamrock I, the first Aer Lingus class of 16 cadets which began training at WMU in January 1998, have been leaving as they complete their flight requirements.

The first British Airways class of cadets arrived March 7, 1998, at WMU's School of Aviation Sciences facilities in Battle Creek, Mich., aboard a BA supersonic Concorde. The 15 BA cadets have chosen to celebrate completion of their U.S. training at a formal March 17 dinner at Battle Creek's McCamly Plaza before they begin leaving to complete their training at the Prestwick facility. The Battle Creek event will be attended by officials from Battle Creek, the Kellogg Foundation, British Airways and the University.

According to David Thomas, interim director of WMU's School of Aviation Sciences, once the cadets leave WMU, they will complete an additional 10 hours of flight training in the United Kingdom, some 40 hours of a jet orientation course and, finally, a conversion course to prepare them for the particular aircraft model they will serve on. Upon completion of training, each class of cadets will take part in official graduation ceremonies at Dublin and Heathrow airports and will be presented with their wings

Since launching contract training last winter with the first Aer Lingus and British Airways cadets, four additional groups of Aer Lingus cadets and two additional BA cadet classes have begun training in Battle Creek. Three additional groups of BA cadets are due to begin training at WMU this year. The University also has added a third contract with Emirates Airlines, accepting a first group of seven students in August, with an additional 32 students expected this year.

WMU has also ordered a 737-type jet simulator that will allow it to offer the required jet orientation course on campus beginning in January 2000. Emirates cadets are expected to be the first to complete jet orientation work at WMU.

For further information about WMU's International Flight Training Centre, contact Thomas, at (616) 964-4744.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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