PITTSTON TWP. — Northeastern Pennsylvania is doing its part to address the worldwide shortage of airline pilots.
Officials at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport on Thursday joined representatives of Marywood University and Aviation Technologies Inc. to announce the university will begin offering its flight program at AVP starting in September.
The Marywood program, currently housed at its Scranton campus, is the only aviation education program in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
In a recent Conde Nast magazine story, Daniel Elwell, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, recently warned of a “tsunami of retirements” that will occur in the next five to 10 years and deplete the ranks of commercial pilots. Boeing, in a recent forecast, predicted the aviation industry worldwide will need 790,000 new pilots over the next 20 years.
Aviation Technologies will provide the flight training experiences for students enrolled in the program.
“This announcement synchronizes the great economic impact of our airport with the tremendous employment opportunities available in this field. It’s a big win for the whole community,” said Carl R. Beardsley, airport executive director.
Beardsley said the airport is a “multi-layered economic engine” with a regional economic impact of $327 million, directly and indirectly.
“Anything that is good for our students and good for our area is certainly something to talk about and we are so glad to be here to share this news,” said Sister Mary Persico, Marywood president.
Captain Joe McDonald, director of the aviation program at Marywood, said the university was in need of a place for internships. He said the airport offers the best facilities for a successful program.
McDonald said there are 37 students enrolled for the fall semester; 31 of them are already flying.
“We hope to expand our program,” McDonald said. “Our students will meet pilots, mechanics, fuelers and people in all related jobs. There are many career opportunities available.”
McDonald said some 2,957 pilots were hired this year by major airlines. He said the market is expected to be excellent through 2026.
“We have never experienced such a shortage of pilots and we welcome the opportunity to train the next generation of aviators,” said Jim Gallagher, president of Aviation Technologies. “We will train quality, safe aviators of the future.”
Some highlights of Marywood’s program:
• The only aviation program in the region to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree.
• A two-track degree: professional pilot/flight operations or airport/airline management.
• Experienced instructors.
• FAA certified.
“Today is another great day at AVP,” noted Lackawanna County Commissioner Patrick O’Malley, chairman of the airport’s bi-county board. “We’re continuing to expand our presence in this region by welcoming a new partner in Marywood University and leveraging the great resources of our existing tenant, Aviation Technologies, to help prepare more students for great careers in aviation.”
Tim McGinley, Luzerne County council member and airport board vice chairman, hopes the new partnership will be around for a long time.
“It makes sense for this program to be here,” McGinley said. “This is the perfect location — and the facilities here are fantastic.”
McDonald noted the distance from Marywood to the airport is just 12 miles.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.