WMU News

Emirate pilots head for flight school
Training options expanded

June 18, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Emirates Airlines, the international carrier of the United Arab Emirates, will become the third major client of Western Michigan University's International Pilot Training Centre when its first cadets arrive at WMU's Battle Creek, Mich., facility in August.

Eight Emirates cadets will begin training Aug. 12 at the W.K. Kellogg Airport site that is home to WMU's School of Aviation Sciences and its International Pilot Training Centre. The cadets will be trained under terms of an expected one-year contract.

The Emirates cadets will share a training course with a class of eight new Aer Lingus cadets. The arrival of both groups of students will bring to 72 the number of international airlines pilots being trained at the school, which also has a training contract with British Airways.

"This is a big step toward our goal of having, as regular clients, a group of four or five select airlines that are representative of different parts of the world," says Joseph H. Dunlap, director of WMU's School of Aviation Sciences. "In the future, we'd like also to have an Asian airline and eventually one from Africa as part of that select group."

Contract details with the newest client are now being finalized, Dunlap says, but the agreement will include a major new component to the school's training regimen -- a five-week jet orientation course. The course will familiarize students with jet handling characteristics, crew coordination and flight management systems.

The new course will be made possible by the school's recent decision to acquire a jet simulator. The simulator, which will be a Boeing 737-400 type, will arrive sometime in the summer of 1999. That purchase was made possible partly through a grant to the school from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek.

"This is a major development for us," Dunlap says. "Not only will we be able to negotiate future contracts that will include jet training, having the simulator means we'll also be able to bid on offering airline-sponsored jet orientation courses for cadets other than the ones we are training."

Prior to taking the jet orientation course, the Emirates cadets, like the British Airways and Aer Lingus cadets, will receive 13 months of ab initio training. That European-style training method prepares cadets with no previous flight experience to move directly into a jet orientation course and then on to the role of co-pilot/first officer in one of their firms' commercial passenger planes.

WMU first began offering such training last fall to a group of self-sponsored students, then announced a two-year contract with British Airways in December and a one-year contract with Aer Lingus in January. WMU's program is the only university-based school in the nation certified to provide such training by the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority.

Dunlap says if the new simulator arrives in time, the Emirates class will be the first to go through the jet orientation course at the Battle Creek facility. If delivery of the simulator is delayed, the students will be sent to British Aerospace in Prestwick, England, which will offer the course under a contract with WMU.

For new classes that start after August of this year, Dunlap notes, the jet orientation course will be an additional option for airlines to consider when they choose to train at WMU. Both British Airways and Aer Lingus already have decided to exercise options in their current contracts to send additional cadets for training at WMU. British Airways will send an additional 16 students this fall and Aer Lingus has opted to send the eight cadets who will arrive in August and an additional 16 in the fall. By the close of 1998, about 100 international airline cadets will be studying at WMU.

Emirates Airlines, which is based in the UAE state of Dubai, offers air service to 34 international destinations including London, Hong Kong and Jakarta. Known for operating one of the world's newest fleets of aircraft, it recently acquired seven new Boeing 777s to add to its fleet of Airbus 300s, 310s and 330s. It also has recently announced that new routes will be launched to Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur.

WMU's School of Aviation Sciences has been offering undergraduate degree programs in aviation since 1939. In addition to the students in its International Pilot Training Centre, it has an undergraduate student body of more than 550 students who are pursuing bachelor's degrees in one of four degree programs. The school also is home to the national championship flight team, the Sky Broncos, which captured the top spot at the 1998 National Intercollegiate Flying Association competition.

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

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