San Diego Christian College launches pipeline to American Eagle Airlines

San Diego Christian College has inked an agreement with American Eagle Airlines that will allow its aviation students a direct pathway to a career with commercial airlines.

A recent agreement with American Eagle will give graduates of SDC’s Aviation program more opportunities to launch their airline careers by creating a “pipeline” from collegiate aviation — through flight instructing — to a guaranteed job with the regional airline.

After flying two years with AEA, pipeline pilots get a guaranteed interview with parent company, American Airlines.

Captain Denny Breslin, SDC Director of Aviation, and a former American Airlines pilot, announced the new agreement where American Eagle will hire SDC’s graduates who meet requirements ranging from college GPA and excellence in flight skills, to flight time minimums for its Instructor Pipeline Program.

“The program helps ensure we have the airline-qualified pilots we need for the future and eases the transition from college to the airline for program participants,” said Captain Nicholas Brice, who negotiated the deal for Eagle’s pilot recruitment. “Participation by schools like San Diego Christian is a win-win for both us and graduates looking for careers as commercial pilots.”

The pipeline program allows commercial pilots with instrument ratings to interview with the airline and be hired as undergraduates. Upon graduation pipeline pilots would be paid to flight-instruct SDC students until they reach the 1000 flight hour minimum for employment as a first officer with AEA.

SDC graduates can also qualify for the restricted Airline Transport Pilot rating under SDC’s new Letter of Agreement with the FAA. SDC pilots qualify under a new provision in FAR 61.160 to fly jets for American Eagle with only 1,000 total flight hours. Non-college applicants or pilots from non-LOA schools will continue to require 1500 flight hours. The FAA’s restricted ATP rating is a response to Public Law 111-216, effective last year, requiring all airline pilots to have the ATP rating.

Pipeline participants will also receive boarding pass privileges and health benefits from AEA, as well as a $10,000 scholarship upon completion of the program.

“They could put the scholarship money toward the cost of their multi-engine and instrument flight instructor ratings, so it’s a great opportunity for our students,” said Captain Breslin.

“The demand for pilots is just beginning and will peak in the mid-2020s. This is the best hiring window for commercial pilots since the 1960s,” said Breslin. “For the first time since I’ve been the Director of Aviation at SDC, there is a light at the end of the financial tunnel for aviation students and their parents to see that the enormous investment in a college aviation education is worth the cost.”

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