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College's Aviation Outreach Plan 'Ensures Success in the Cockpit'

September 23, 2011

There’s been a lot of discussion in the aviation community about what may be done to stem the tide of student pilots who drop out of training before earning their certifications. Many ideas have been tried, including accelerated training programs, and greater outreach to potential pilot candidates. Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology has a plan of its own.

On July 1, the Queens, NY-based school hired former King Schools marketing executive Ken Kaplan to spearhead the college’s new Aviation Outreach Initiative. On September 15, the school signed an agreement with Redbird Flight Simulations to provide what Kaplan terms “a structure that ensures success in the cockpit.”

Under the school’s partnership with Redbird, students will undergo ground-school training at Vaughn’s campus, where they will also start building time on the school’s existing full-motion simulators. After passing their FAA Knowledge Tests, those students will move to Redbird’s upcoming “Skyport” flight training facility in San Marcos, TX, to complete their actual flight training, complimented by additional simulator time. The school plans for its first class to graduate under the new program in spring 2012.

“We view technology as a tool, that when used correctly, can significantly improve learning, control cost and lead to timely student success,” Kaplan said. “We're committed to this value proposition for Vaughn students, and hope to learn more, and adjust to what we learn, as we move through this process.”

Vaughn College President John Fitzpatrick noted the college contracted out to other flying services since formation of its flight school program in 1996, but the school had grown disillusioned with those efforts. “In our experience, those efforts were less of a partnership, and more like that of a service provider,” he said. “There were some communications and quality issues, and we decided after the last round of contract services we would find an alternative.”

Dr. Sharon DeVivo, Senior Vice-President for Academic and Student Affairs noted that Vaughn College had planned to form its own flight school, but Kaplan came to them with the idea to partner with Redbird as that company developed its own flight training program. “We were already early purchasers of Redbird simulators – we have numbers 9 and 10 at our New York campus,” she said. “When we met with them about our ideas, they were very open and receptive to doing things in a different, more customer-focused kind of way.”

Kaplan believes that approach will keep more students at the controls of their own flying careers, through earning their certificates and beyond. “In my view, learning the physical skills of flying an airplane is made more difficult by doing the training solely in the cockpit, where the student is in a stressful, and frequently new, environment,” he said. “Some students attempt to mimic the instructor instead of learning the concepts, and then applying them. When I was learning to fly, I would too often leave the cockpit anxious and drenched in sweat.

“Using a good simulator on the ground, coupled with a clear understanding of the specific maneuver...the concept behind the control movements...can change this for the better,” Kaplan concludes. “Data from the simulator can give the student a solid, quantitative way to measure performance and improve their performance. Simulation-centric learning is more effective, efficient and fun.”

More information about the Vaughn College and the Aviation Outreach Initiative is available here. The school will announce tuition rates for the program in the coming months.