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FVSU Aviation Program "Call to Action"

Hello Fellow Citizens,

We are a group of Community and Business Leaders, Aviation Industry Professionals, Academicians, and Professional Pilots who are writing to request a CALL TO ACTION. This CALL TO ACTION is on behalf of a small Historically Black College/University (HBCU) in Middle Georgia, Fort Valley State University (FVSU). We are coordinating our efforts through the Peach Regional Chamber of Commerce.

 

But first, some brief background information. As most of us know, there is a growing shortage of pilots in the aviation industry, both domestically and internationally. USA Today characterizes it as, “the biggest in Aviation history,” (Jones, Jan 6, 2013). Please note:

• Boeing’s Current Market Outlook predicts that over the next 20 years, airline fleets will double due to worldwide demand for rapid movement of products and personnel, along with expanding markets in Asia, The Pacific, The Middle East, South America, and Africa. The result will be a worldwide shortage of over 533,000 pilots, (Average 26,650 per year - Boeing, July 2014).

• For North America, the shortage over this period will exceed 89,600 pilots.

• Shortfalls in the United States Airline Industry alone will exceed 3,000-8,000 pilots annually, (University studies and FAA forecast).

• Any disruption in airline operations will have dire economic consequences for Georgia. Georgia is home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, the 10th largest Air Cargo Hub in North America, and the largest employer in the state, (58,000 direct and indirect employees - BTS, BLS & GA DOL). 

Because of this growing pilot shortage, airlines are resorting to drastic measures to secure their pilot requirements such as:

• Reducing and/or curtailing service to some cities and grounding aircraft.

• Offering large signing bonuses to pilots.

• Recruiting Collegiate Aviation Program students in their sophomore year.

• Offering Collegiate Aviation Program Juniors and Seniors employment contracts with immediate benefits.

 

CALL TO ACTION FOR
FORT VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY

This is where Fort Valley State University comes in. 

Recently a major 4 year study was completed by a team of industry experts to determine the feasibility of a 4 year Aviation Management Degree Program at Fort Valley State Univ. The team was led by Col. Robert Hamilton, a retired United States Air Force Pilot. The FVSU Study revealed a number of promising conclusions: 

First, in addition to pilots in general, the aviation industry desperately needs more minority pilots, (Currently African-Americans constitute only 3% of the pilot work force). As the only 1890 land-grant institution in the state of Georgia, FVSU has served the educational needs of minorities for over 110 years. FVSU is a cultural icon and source of intense pride for many citizens of Middle Georgia. A FVSU Aviation Program would enhance this legacy by making it one of only five Historically Black Colleges in the U.S., and one of only three in the Southeast with a 4 year aviation degree program. 

Second, the FVSU Aviation Program would be unique in that it is designed around an “Aviation Cadet Corp” model that will imbue students with discipline, a solid work ethic, a sense of personal responsibility, and leadership skills sorely needed in today’s work place. 

Third, FVSU would become one of only two VA/GI Bill eligible Aviation Programs in Georgia. 

For additional facts and conclusions from the FVSU Study, see the attachment: “TALKING POINTS ON PROPOSED FVSU AVIATION PROGRAM” 

This is where the CALL TO ACTION comes in. 

The aforementioned comprehensive FVSU Study was recently submitted to the Georgia Board of Regents. Unfortunately, IT WAS REJECTED. The only reason given was PROGRAM DUPLICATION. 

It is our opinion, as Professional Pilots in the aviation industry, that THIS PROPOSAL SHOULD BE SERIOUSLY RECONSIDERED AND IMMEDIATELY IMPLEMENTED. 

If you agree, we are asking that as many people in general, (and pilots in particular), SEND EMAILS to The Georgia Board of Regents AND to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, (addresses below), strongly requesting that they SERIOUSLY RECONSIDER AND IMMEDIATELY IMPLEMENT THE PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A FOUR YEAR COLLEGIATE AVIATION PROGRAM AT FORT VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY. 

 

A sample email draft is included below for your convenience to copy and paste for your own letter. 

For questions, please contact Col Robert Hamilton, (bob.aeroflightservices@gmail.com). 

Thank you for giving this request you time and consideration. 

 

 

Dear Chancellor Huckaby/Governor Deal: 

Hello, my name is ___________. I am a ____ (resident of Fort Valley, business owner, etc.) _______. I am greatly concerned about a recent decision reached by your Board of Regents to decline Fort Valley State University’s four year Aviation Management Degree Program. The rationale given was program duplication. 

Please consider the following statistics: Projections by Boeing and academia predict that 533,000 additional pilots will be needed over the next 20 years to meet exploding worldwide demand. The U.S. will require 89,600 more pilots for the same time period. Already, this shortage threatens Georgia's aviation industry that contributes $56 billion annually to our state economy and employs over 313,000 people. Currently, our Georgia based airlines are grounding aircraft and reducing service due to the pilot shortage.

Considering the above and that Georgia has only one 4 year aviation program that produces only 6-10 airline ready pilots per year, HOW CAN ONE (1) ADDITIONAL SUCH PROGRAM BE “PROGRAM DUPLICATION?” 

I understand that the FVSU Aviation Program proposal is the culmination of over four years of research and development. I also understand that it was designed by a team of industry experts to be highly effective, minimize attrition, (both before and after graduation), and operate at little or no cost to the taxpayer. I strongly believe the FVSU Aviation Program is desperately needed and will enjoy widespread support. 

Therefore, on behalf of my family, co-workers, and fellow citizens, I ask you to please SERIOUSLY RECONSIDER AND IMMEDIATELY IMPLEMENT THE PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A FOUR YEAR COLLEGIATE AVIATION MANAGEMENT DEGREE PROGRAM AT FORT VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY. 

THANK YOU! 

Sincerely, 

[Send e-mails to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor – Mr. Hank Huckaby, expressing your support for this FVSU Proposal. Chancellor@usg.edu 

Send e-mails to the Honorable Nathan Deal Governor of Georgia at http://gov.georgia.gov/webfo…/contact-governor-domestic-form expressing your support for this FVSU Proposal. 

Tell everyone you know about our collective need (for pilots) and this FVSU opportunity. Ask them to contact the Georgia Board of Regents and the Georgia Governor. 

Check the Peach County Chamber of Commerce Web site for program updates.

TALKING POINTS ON PROPOSED FVSU AVIATION PROGRAM

INTRODUCTION

FVSU is seeking authorization from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to offer a Bachelor’s degree program in Aviation Management as part of strategic efforts to increase enrollment and expand opportunities for the University’s client base. If approved, the first Freshman class will enter Fall 2015.

Unprecedented Industry Need 
There is a looming pilot shortage crisis in the global Aviation Industry that USA Today characterizes as, “the biggest in Aviation history” (Jones, Jan 6, 2013).  
Boeing’s Current Market Outlook predicts that over the next 20 years, airline fleets will double due to worldwide demand for rapid movement of products and personnel, along with expanding markets in Asia, The Pacific, The Middle East, South America, and Africa. The result will be a worldwide shortage of over 533,000 pilots, (Avg 26,650 per year - Boeing, July 2014).
For North America, the aggregate shortage over this period will exceed 89,600 pilots. Shortfalls in the U.S. Airline industry alone will exceed 3,000-8,000 pilots annually, (University studies and FAA forecast).
Any disruption in Airline operations will have dire economic consequences for Georgia.
Georgia is home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, the 10th largest Air Cargo Hub in North America, and the largest employer in the state, (58,000 direct and indirect employees), (BTS, BLS & GA DOL).  
The aviation industry alone contributes over $56.5 billion into the State’s Economy annually, and provides over 313,000 jobs in the State, (FAA 2013). 

Unprecedented Career Opportunity
The Bureau of Labor Statics lists Georgia as one of the top twelve states with the highest employment level for pilots. Georgia is also among the top five states with high salaries for pilots. Atlanta is among the top ten Metropolitan areas with highest employment level for pilots, accounting for 630 pilots with average annual salary of $97,630.  
Because the growing pilot shortage is causing airlines to reduce or curtail service to outlining cities and ground aircraft, (27 at Express jet), airlines are offering large signing bonuses, beginning recruitment of Collegiate Aviation Program students in their sophomore year, and offering Collegiate Aviation Program Juniors and Seniors employment contracts with immediate benefits.

Why FVSU?
Aviation Industry studies conducted by a consortium of universities and regional airlines show that pilots with a four year, aviation management focused, college degree have the highest success rates during initial and follow on training, (Pilot Source Study – 2011). Also, it is seasoned pilots who rise to managerial positions. For these reasons, airline companies are requiring applicants to have a college education along with required flight training.  
Fort Valley State University is well situated to offer both. It has a Business Administration & Economics Department with a long history of producing high caliber managers for both Warner Robins Air Force Base, and business organizations across our state and abroad. 
FVSU is also located just seven miles from Perry Airport which has an established, FAA Part 141 approved and licensed Flight Training School. Working with this local provider will require zero net capital investment by the University System of Georgia and allow unrestricted flight training program growth as enrollment expands. Other program costs will be offset through fees for flight and simulator training, industry scholarships, airline provision of training opportunities and needed equipment, Title 3 funding, DOT Grants, and community contributions in kind. This, in effect, reduces the cost per aviation student from current medical school levels (MGSC) to the same as any other college undergraduate.  
In addition, the aviation industry desperately needs more minority pilots, (currently African-Americans constitute only 3% of the pilot work force). As a Historically Black University, FVSU is in a unique position to meet this need.
The FVSU program will also reduce cost to students through employment as tutors, simulator and flight instructors, industry paid internships, scholarships, and employment with local aviation businesses. The program is also designed to allow graduates to begin their aviation careers with “Bridge Program” partners such as Cape Air, until they reach minimum experience requirements to fly for major airlines. During FVSU’s four year program, potential student direct earnings will exceed $38,000. Indirect compensation from free flight hours earned as an instructor will bring the total student compensation package to over $240,000.  
The proposed Aviation Program will allow FVSU to tap into a diverse, global market, bringing needed jobs, grants, industry investment, and growth to FVSU and the Middle Georgia economy. Conservative growth projections indicate enrollment will increase by the sixth year to over 400 students, and infuse over $9 million annually into local economies. Lastly, the visibility and prestige for a FVSU sponsored aviation program could be considerable, both nationally and internationally. 
Demand for the proposed program at FVSU has been building for some time. Interested government and industry partners include: The FAA, Delta Airlines, Express Jet, JetBlue, Cape Air, Aeroflight Services and many more such as: Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE), a four year program that recruits top notch, Atlanta area high school students, and the Tuskegee Airmen Summer Camp, a three-week summer training program held annually at Delta Airlines Headquarters in Atlanta.  
These programs along with high schools across the state, national and international aviation programs, veterans leaving the military, ROTC programs, and young people across the globe with a passion for aviation, will create a reliable pipeline of students to the FVSU program annually. 

Impact on Similar Programs at other USG Institutions
Middle Georgia State College is the only other Georgia institution with a successful flight aviation program. However, because of demand, MGSC is nearing capacity with waiting lists and scheduling challenges due to lack of aircraft and instructors, in both fixed and rotary wing flight training.  
Second, the State of Georgia is not eager to procure additional state-owned aircraft, and the Eastman Aviation Campus has nearly reached facility development and growth limits.  
With the nation-wide pilot shortage becoming dire, several collegiate aviation programs across the state will be needed to meet demand. As of Oct, the combined number of new Air Transport Pilot Certificates issued in the state of Georgia for 2014 is only 44. Additionally, only 273 Commercial Pilot Certificates were issued over this same period, (FAA IACRA). Of this number, the largest percentage were obtained by foreign nationals obligated to foreign carriers. This means the state of Georgia is not producing pilots needed to meet the current or foreseeable state annual demand of 340, (GA DOL). 

Conclusion
In summary, with a pilot shortage crisis looming across U.S. and global markets, USG leadership can help avert national and statewide economic disaster by encouraging collegiate institutions to position themselves to provide flight training. Airlines have realized they must invest in the training of pilots to sustain their operations and respond to industry growth. Flight Training programs that prepare pilots for college degrees are being aggressively sought after by airlines, both foreign and domestic. Those institutions that establish aviation programs stand to reap significant student growth and financial gain over the next 20 years as industry is forced to offset student training costs to fill this shortfall. As Georgia’s only 1890 land-grant institution, Fort Valley State University would become one of just three Historically Black Colleges in the Southeast to offer a flight training program and only the second institution in Georgia to possess a collegiate flight training program. This, therefore, cannot be viewed as a duplication issue. It must be seen as a proactive response to national and international need that has far reaching implications for our national economy and the economies of several states including Georgia. The bottom line is that a collegiate aviation program at FVSU will serve the greater public interest, provide much needed student population growth and revenue for the University, and put FVSU graduates on the fast track to fill critical shortfalls within the aviation industry. 

End of letter

 

What can you do to help?
Contact friends, family, civic, business and political leaders, and express you support for this vital initiative.
Send this document along with your encouragement, and ask your contacts to lend their support.
Be ready to call and/or write the Board of Regents to express your support.
Pass on FVSU Aviation Program updates to your contacts as they become available.

 

References
Carey, S. et al. (Feb 3, 2014). Airline-Pilot Shortage Arrives Ahead of Schedule. Pilot Retirements and New Rules on Training and Rest Hurt More Than Expected, Wall Street Journal, Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/…/SB100014240527023048511045793613202… 
Jones, C. (Jan 6, 2013). Pilot Shortage Looms for Airlines, Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/…/pilots-shortage-could-st…/1566088/

Boeing Airplane Company. (July 2014). Boeing Current Market Outlook (2014-2033), Retrieved from http://www.boeing.com/…/commercial/cmo/pilot_and_technician_ outlook.page

Federal Aviation Administration. (Dec 31, 2013). FAA Aerospace Forecasts Fiscal Years 2014–2034, Retrieved from http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_ offices/apl/aviation forecasts/aerospace_forecasts/2014-2034/ 

Jasmine Wang & Simone Baribeau. China Lures U.S. Pilots Tired of 14-Year Wait for Airline Captain’s Seat, Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/…/china-lures-u-s-pilots-tired-of-…

Georgia Department of Labor, (Sep 2014). Occupational Wages. Retrieved from: http://explorer.dol.state.ga.us/mis/wages.htm

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics. (2013). Job openings due to growth and replacement needs, 2013-2022 Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers & Commercial Pilots. Retrieved from: http:// data.bls.gov/oep/noeted

Aviation Industry Stakeholders. (Nov, 2012) Pilot Supply Industry Study Proposal, Request for GAO Study submitted by key industry leaders in response to looming pilot shortage crisis, Retrieved from: http://www.aabi.aero/…/Pilot%20Supply%20and%20Demand%20Stak…%20position.pdf

Federal Aviation Administration. (Aug 2011). The Economic Impact of Civil Aviation on the U.S. Economy, Retrieved from: http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/media /FAA_Economic Impact_Rpt_2011.pdf

Federal Aviation Administration. (Dec 2011). Economic Impact of Civil Aviation by State, The Economic Impact of Civil Aviation on the U.S. Economy, Retrieved from: http://www.faa.gov/…/publications/reports/econom…/media/FAA_ Economic_Impact_Report by_State_2011.pdf

Federal Aviation Administration. (15 Oct 2014). Integrated Airmen Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA), Commercial and ATP Certificates issued in Georgia for the past year to date, Retrieved from: https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/

Smith, G., Embry Riddle Air University. (Mar 2011). Pilot Supply Gap Analysis, 2011 National Training Aircraft Symposium Briefing, Retrieved from: http://ntas.erau.edu /proceedings/downloads /2011/NTAS-2011-GAP-Analysis-(Dr.-Guy-Smith).pdf