CEDAR CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Thinking about making a career move? You may want to look to the friendly skies. Aviation experts say pilots are in demand. Southern Utah University and a private aviation company, Cirrus Aircraft, are using state-of-the planes to teach Utahns how to fly.
Conor Overstake the Regional Sales Director for Cirrus Aircraft, explains, “What we’re looking at here is the most advanced general aviation aircraft today…We’re looking at fully coupled auto-pilot, glass cock-pit, lots of safety features.”
The airplane is also highly personalized. Among other things, it has touch screens and leather seats.
“We’ve got cup holders and USB connectors so that your kids in the back can plug in their iPad,” Overstake adds.
There are now 10 of these airplanes at the Salt Lake City International Airport, and if you fly down south just a few hundred miles, a new fleet of Cirrus aircrafts has landed at Southern Utah University.
Mike Mower is the Executive Director and Chief Instructor of Southern Utah University’s aviation program. He says, “We are the only collegiate program that has these brand new SR-20s,” Mower adds, “Flying these at our altitude, it is a smooth flight, it’s also one of the safest aircrafts out there.”
If an emergency occurs, a parachute–called the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, or CAPS– can be deployed, helping the plane land safely and gently. He says having these planes also makes his students more job ready.
“It’s what the industry is wanting…we’ve purchased the aircraft that’s going to give students that competitive edge in the market,” Mower continues.
The aircraft is flown with a joystick device, which is how some larger, commercial aircrafts are flown. The type of training provided by Southern Utah University could give Utah pilots a jump start to their career.
The Buraeu of Labor Statistics projects the world of flying will change significantly in the next three years.
“We have a big issue coming,” says Mower.
It’s called the “Silver Wave.”
Mower says, “2021 is when all of the airlines and all of the maintenance personnel are expected to start having mass retirements.”
Mower says there is a 10 to 12 percent shortfall of pilots and maintenance personnel on the horizon, on top of the already existing demand for more pilots. He says passengers could see fewer available flights and more cancellations.
“We are doing our best to position ourself with the latest technology…experiential education…and we are trying to do our best to help with this massive industry demand,” says Mower.