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Jacksonville University agreement with ExpressJet offers flight students guaranteed path to jobs

Jacksonville University aviation students are now part of a selective collegiate program, only the fifth in the nation offering a one-of-a-kind career path from college all the way to the cockpit of a major airline.

Thanks to an Airline Pilot Pathway Program (AP3) agreement signed with ExpressJet, qualified JU Davis Aviation Center students can start their commercial pilot screening process early in their schooling, creating a path guaranteeing them jobs as first officers with ExpressJet.

Once the candidates have flown with ExpressJet and additional requirements are met, they will also be guaranteed an interview for pilot openings with Delta Air Lines.

ExpressJet, based in Georgia, is the world’s largest regional airline, operating an average of 2,200 daily flights as Delta Connection and United Express.

Dr. Juan Merkt

Dr. Juan Merkt, director of the Davis Aviation Center, said the agreement is part of a new trend in the industry.

“The demand for pilots is growing, but the airlines need well-qualified candidates who possess a broad-based education, and professional skills best earned at accredited professional collegiate programs like JU,” he said. “It’s exciting that our students will be among the first in the nation to benefit from direct career path initiatives such as AP3.”

The AP3 agreement between ExpressJet and select college aviation programs is partly in response to unprecedented demand for pilots. A wave of pilot retirements, more international travel routes, proposed FAA rules changes and a strengthening U.S. economy have led to projections of high need. This summer, for example, Boeing estimated in its Pilot and Technician Outlook that by 2031, global demand for new commercial airline pilots will reach 460,000.

“JU was picked for the program with ExpressJet because of its proven track record of producing high-quality graduates,” said Dan Robertson, manager for pilot recruiting at ExpressJet.

As part of their curriculum, JU students complete a rigorous, airline-oriented flight training program in partnership with Aerosim Flight Academy and an intensive business curriculum that prepares them for their career as professional pilots, Merkt noted.

“We have built a strong relationship with ExpressJet, which has hired many of our graduates in the past five years. Thus the signed agreement is a re-affirmation of this long-term relationship,” he said.

In the AP3 program, freshmen and sophomores will begin to take part in a structured, challenging screening process akin to that used by major airlines for incoming pilots. Those meeting the requirements will have a better chance of becoming first officers with ExpressJet as jobs become available.

“Many current students have already inquired or requested information about the new program,” Merkt said.

For more information about the AP3 agreement, contact Dr. Juan Merkt, Director and Associate Professor, Davis Aviation Center, Jacksonville University, jmerkt@ju.edu, (904) 256-7894.

About the Davis Aviation Center

Jacksonville University’s Davis Aviation Center in the Davis College of Business has been educating and training future professional pilots and aviation executives for more than 25 years. The university’s Aviation Management and Aviation Management & Flight Operations degree programs are accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI). JU is one of 36 universities in the nation selected by the FAA to educate future air traffic controllers under the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI). Its students also benefit from a one-of-a-kind partnership with Aerosim Flight Academy, offering airline-oriented flight training. For more information about the program, call (904) 256-7895.