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U.S. American
May 11, 2006
Mesa terminates pilot training program


By G. Jeff Golden The Daily Times
Posted: 11/05/2009 12:00:00 AM MST

FARMINGTON — Mesa Air Group is discontinuing its pilot training program at San Juan College, ending a 20-year partnership.

The college's aviation department will cease operations at the conclusion of the fall semester. No classes will be held in the spring.

"Unfortunately, given the current operating environment and the challenges facing the company, (Mesa) can no longer sustain its training program at San Juan College," Mickey Moman, general manager of Mesa Pilot Development Inc., said in a prepared statement.

Moman did not return calls late Wednesday requesting further comment.

College administrators received surprise word of the program's cancellation during the day Wednesday, following a telephone conversation with Mesa officials Tuesday night.

"It was not expected," college President Carol Spencer said.

Administrators notified students enrolled in the program of its discontinuation at a special meeting on campus at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, aviation student Leslie Bollato said.

Bollato is one of about 10 students in their final semester who will comprise the program's last graduating class. The about 20 remaining students aren't so lucky.

The atmosphere at the meeting was of stunned disappointment, Bollato said.

"If you weren't in the (fourth semester), it was probably like dazed and confused," Bollato said. "A real kind of somber concern, like Where do I go from here?'"

The move will force the college to cut two faculty positions and Aviation
Coordinator Rae Lynn Shropshire, Spencer said.

The partnership with Enchantment Helicopters announced last month to offer helicopter flight training at the college likely will be nixed as well, as it utilized many of Mesa's ground school classes.

"It's very, very sad. It's going to affect not just the students, but the people the program has employed. It's just very sad. It's sad that it's come to this," Bollato said.

Mesa began as Mesa Air Shuttle in 1982, ferrying passengers between Farmington and Albuquerque on a single nine-passenger aircraft, according to the airline's Web site. Within 10 years it had grown to serve 63 cities with a fleet of 38 aircraft.

Mesa relocated its headquarters from Farmington to Phoenix in 1998.

In 2009, the airline operates 145 aircraft in 124 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Mesa began its partnership with San Juan College in 1989 in order to train pilots to fill its ranks. Students were able to complete ground school and the required 250 hours of flight training in Farmington, while earning an associate degree.

The program cost, on average, nearly $70,000 over the course of four semesters. San Juan College offered rates below most similar programs because it's a community college.

The aviation department was in the midst of 20th anniversary celebrations this year.

The college's replica jet flight simulator was on loan from Mesa, and likely will have to be returned. But administrators have not discussed logistics of the program's cancellation with the airline.

"We have not worked through any details of the transition with them as of yet," Spencer said.

Mesa maintains two other flight schools, at Arizona State University and Texas' Midland College. It is unknown if they will accept transfers from Farmington, but most students want to stay here, Bollato said.

The program's cancellation is a loss the college definitely will mourn, but administrators' main concern is to help the displaced students land on their feet.

"We've graduated hundreds of top-quality pilots, and this is a loss," Spencer said. "What is is, and we will move forward as professionally as possible and do our very best to take care of the students."

G. Jeff Golden:

[email protected]
The ATP requirements for all 121 pilots around the corner doesn't help them either.
A flight school in Farmington NM doesnt make sense for Mesa or anyone now...it did a while ago. The ASU program is still working.
Was anyone actually even going there? Last I heard they were recruiting in the local Indian reservations.

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