To the Editor:
As a local pilot, I have read the recent Daily Record articles regarding the Central Washington University aviation program with interest and dismay. I am a past employee of CWU, a current member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and I received my flight training from Midstate Aviation. Recent discussions with students, faculty, Midstate Aviation personnel, and other pilots have raised concerns regarding the misrepresentation of facts as reported in these articles. These misstatements have actually discouraged prospective students from applying to the aviation program — a very distressing circumstance. Initially, there was a question of accreditation.
There are two types of accreditation involved. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration requires 1,500 hours to fly for airlines: the Air Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. However, The FAA has reduced the ATP requirements to 1,000 hours for students who graduate from approved universities provided that the university is accredited by a regional accreditation entity.
CWU meets this requirement and is accredited by the Northwest Commission for Colleges and Universities (the FAA provides a link to verify an institution’s accreditation: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation). The CWU aviation program has applied to the FAA for this reduced hour status and is awaiting approval. Additional accreditation for the aviation program “itself” is in process through the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI). However, the AABI accreditation is in addition to, and unrelated to the FAA’s required regional accreditation for the ATP.
Further, it was reported (Dec. 20) that the FAA had “increased performance standards” and requires a “higher level certification for new commercial pilots.” That assertion is false. There has been no change in the FAA requirements for the basic private pilot certificate, instrument flight rating, multiengine rating or commercial pilot certification – all part of the CWU curriculum.
Most airline-bound pilots (including CWU aviation students) finish their commercial certificate at about 250 hours, then flight instruct after graduation, building hours for the required ATP (airline) certificate. Only the ATP certificate requirements have changed, potentially reducing required hours. This change does not affect the certificates and ratings taught as part of the CWU aviation program’s curriculum.
The success of the CWU aviation program in partnership with Midstate Aviation has had a significant positive effect over the years on the economic prosperity of our local community. The loss of this program at Bowers Field, due to misinformation, would be a disastrous economic blow to all concerned.
John Bull, Ph.D.
vice-president EAA chapter 492