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UND, Frontier Airlines agree to new career pathway partnership

New program from Denver-based Frontier Airlines will help UND with advanced instruction in addition to streamlining pilots’ career paths

From left to right, Shayne Daku, associate professor of aviation; Jeremy Roesler, chief flight instructor; Kent Lovelace, director of aviation industry relations and Brett Venhuizen, professor of aviation and department chair, made a visit to Frontier Airlines’ headquarters during the process of creating a new career pathway program for UND’s commercial aviation students. Image courtesy of UND Aerospace.

The University of North Dakota and Frontier Airlines recently reached an agreement creating a career pathway program for students in the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Frontier Airlines joins a robust list of U.S. airlines that have established similar programs with UND Aerospace – providing commercial aviation students with an opportunity to interview at a major airline prior to graduation.

Upon a successful interview process with Frontier, students will then have a predetermined, accelerated route to meet training requirements and join the airline’s pilot workforce.

Elizabeth Bjerke

Through the program’s requirements, this new agreement with Frontier will also help UND in its need for advanced flight instruction, according to UND Aerospace.

“We are very excited for this new and unique partnership with Frontier Airlines,” said Elizabeth Bjerke, associate dean of UND Aerospace. “Not only are they providing an amazing opportunity for our graduates, they are also partnering with the University to provide training and educational experiences for our faculty and staff in order to keep them proficient and current in advanced aircraft operations.

“Providing this valuable experience aligns with our core value of lifelong learning for our faculty and staff.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the University of North Dakota to support this exciting career pathway program for future pilots,” said Brad Lambert, vice president of flight operations for Frontier Airlines. “This novel agreement will enhance our future pilot pipeline and bring valuable training expertise to the University. It’s a true win for both organizations.”

Students who are accepted into Frontier Airlines’ new program will have a unique chance to go directly to a major airline for training and operating experience following graduation. Image courtesy of Frontier Airlines.

‘Unique compared to most’

Kent Lovelace, UND’s director of aviation industry relations, highlighted what makes this latest agreement unique among other pathway programs from major airlines.

Kent Lovelace

“Instead of going to a regional carrier after graduation, students with 1,000 hours of flight time who are selected by Frontier Airlines will go directly to Frontier for training and operating experience, flying their aircraft” Lovelace said. “Following around 40 hours of operating experience training at Frontier, a select number of those in the program will come back to UND and serve as flight instructors in advanced aircraft operations courses.”

Due to the industry-wide demand for pilots, UND Aerospace has been challenged to keep instructors with appropriate experience to teach higher-level “jet transition” courses such as multi-engine systems and advanced aircraft operations – courses that are crucial for students who want to work for major airlines, Lovelace said.

Pilots coming back to UND will instruct for 250 hours before resuming their careers at Frontier Airlines. During their time at UND, pilots will retain their benefits and earn a salary equal to what they would earn at Frontier, Lovelace said.

Brett Venhuizen

“Frontier came to us and said, ‘How can we set this up to where we both win,’” Lovelace remarked. “The resulting program is a concept that’s unique compared to most, and it will help us have a cadre of qualified instructors for advanced instruction purposes.”

Brett Venhuizen, UND professor of aviation and department chair, also characterized Frontier Airlines’ program as a unique opportunity for students to go “directly from UND to the cockpit of an Airbus.” But Frontier’s commitment to faculty and staff training at UND will also help bolster the School’s ability to train future airline pilots, he said.

“Frontier is agreeing to provide type ratings – advanced training – for a number of our faculty and staff,” Venhuizen said. “This will allow our faculty to provide instruction that is closely tailored to the instruction that graduates will receive in their new-hire training at the airlines.”