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Representatives from JU Pilot Gateway program partners jetBlue, CapeAir & ExpressJet pose at the Career Expo held this spring.

Pilot gateway program through jetBlue Airlines provides opportunities for aviation students

Jacksonville University Aviation students Joseph Schmidt and Nathan Whittenton will join 17 other jetBlue University Gateway students when they attend the “Sun ‘n Fun” International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland April 22.

Gateway students competed by writing an essay on jetBlue core values. As part of the trip, they will meet with Warren Christie, Senior Vice President Safety, Security and Training, along with Flight Instructors and Check Airmen at the jetBlue Orlando Support Center, and take a tour of JetBlue University.

“This is one of the largest aviation festivals in the country; the people you can network with could potentially be colleagues or supervisors in the future,” said Whittenton, senior Aviation Management and Flight Operations major. “This opportunity will be very beneficial to furthering my career, and I couldn’t be more excited to be given the chance to participate.”

The University Gateway program is an opportunity made available to JU Aviation Students. In each pilot pathway program, sophomores and upperclassmen take part in a structured, challenging screening process akin to that used by major airlines for incoming pilots. Thanks to these agreements, qualified JU aviation students begin their commercial pilot screening process early in their schooling, creating a path guaranteeing them a job offer as first officers with the regional carrier that has accepted them into their respective program. Other Gateway programs at JU include ExpressJet, Cape Air, Envoy Air (American Airlines) and GoJet Airlines.

“These programs guarantee our students jobs following graduation and provide assurances in an uncertain job market,” said Capt. Mark Willette, Associate Director of Aeronautics. “Our students’ timing is impeccable as they enter the aviation industry. Pilots are in demand, and it is important to provide direct career paths for our graduates.”

Currently, there are 213 active students in the entire jetBlue program from all schools, with more being added this spring. There are 23 JU students involved in the Gateway program, and four more were added this spring: Stephen Price, Stephen Richardson, Kirsten Nieber and Brian Clarkson. There are 42 aviation students involved in one or more of the five Gateway programs offered through the JU aviation program, the most of any aviation school in the country.

“The gateway programs give you an outline on what is needed to accomplish in order to ensure you a job as a commercial airline pilot,” said Chris Anstett, junior Aviation Management & Flight Operations major from Buffalo, N.Y., who was recently accepted to a summer internship with jetBlue. “It also provides me an opportunity to gain experience with a regional airline which will give me a path for future success.”

About the Jacksonville University School of Aviation
Jacksonville University’s School of Aviation in the Davis College of Business has been preparing students for business careers in the aviation industry for more than 30 years. In 1996, Jacksonville University established a one-of-a-kind training partnership with an airline’s training center, Aerosim Flight Academy (formerly Delta Connection Academy), to educate and train future airline pilots. Jacksonville University is one of the first 30 universities in the world with bachelor degree programs accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) and one of 36 universities in the U.S. selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to offer an Air Traffic Control Program under the FAA’s collegiate training initiative (CTI). To view pictures and videos from the Flight Team competition, visit us online on Facebook and YouTube. To follow aviation at JU, visit www.ju.edu/aviation or call (904) 256-7895.