The University of Central Arkansas, in partnership with the city of Conway and Conway Regional Airport, will start the new UCA Aviation Academy that will result in private and commercial aviation training, ratings and licensure in spring 2024.
The programs will start in March 2024 and be operated by the UCA Division of Outreach and Community Engagement and conducted in partnership with Central Flying Service of Little Rock for flight training and the latest in curriculum and instruction.
The nation faces a critical shortage of pilots and this multi-partner effort is planned to be a model of streamlined workforce development addressing those shortages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the aviation industry will see a projected average of 17,000 openings annually for airline and commercial pilots over the next decade.
The UCA Aviation Academy is a highly-certified pilot training program where students will obtain the knowledge, skill and aeronautical experience necessary to meet the requirements for pilot certification. Training and certification in private pilot, instrument rating and commercial pilot will be offered with all licenses and ratings having full certification and accreditation from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“The state of Arkansas has workforce demands in aviation that require new paths to allow citizens to access in-demand credentials and immediately transition into employment,” said Arkansas Division of Higher Education Commissioner Ken Warden. “UCA, the city of Conway and Central Flying Service are to be commended for their joint commitment to innovative solutions to this challenge for our state.”
Students of the program will have ground school opportunities beginning in March with flight training thereafter. Located at the new Conway Regional Airport, the academy will utilize state-of-the-art planes as training will take place in Tecnam airplanes with all glass cockpits and the newest technology.
“This partnership between the city of Conway and the University of Central Arkansas is a prime example of the leadership process at work. It’s what makes Conway special,” said Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry. “We’re confident the UCA Aviation Academy will bring more students to the University of Central Arkansas and greater visibility to the Conway Regional Airport.”
Enrollment will be open to anyone 17 years of age or older regardless of university student status. Grants and aid will be available for many with all military and veterans able to utilize GI Bill or military tuition assistance for this part 141 program.
“The flexibility of this academy allows students to first pursue their workforce training needs if that is their main goal but also provides them a path to continue or pursue other degree options with the university if desired,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “Many students may prioritize securing their commercial pilot certificate to immediately work in the industry while other students will choose to attend UCA for another degree but also want to do their pilot training while in college. This innovative program is a win for the students, the industry, the city, the state and the university.”