March 25, 2010
By Ian J. Twombly
Daniel Webster College is closing the doors on its flight training program, according to sources at the school who learned of the decision in a meeting on March 24. The college is one of the largest flight training providers in the Northeast and began in 1964 as the New England Aeronautical Institute.
ITT Educational Services, the parent company of ITT Technical Institutes, purchased the nonprofit school last year when it was struggling with large debt payments. Doing so allowed it to immediately gain a more respected regional accreditation, but the plans were always to grow the school through distance learning, according to Aidan Seltsam-Wilps, the school’s chief instructor.
“It was never really an intention of ITT to develop the flight program,” said Seltsam-Wilps. “They were waiting for the legal opportunity to structure things as they wanted.”
School representatives said the company is committed to offering current students the classes they’ll require to graduate in a reasonable amount of time. But, said Seltsam-Wilps, “I’m certain that ITT would prefer all our students to leave now.”
The school currently has around 80 students in its flight program, 36 of which just started last fall as freshman. “They’re stunned. They’re scared,” said Seltsam-Wilps. “The real kicker is that it’s difficult to get another application into another school this time of year.” The faculty is reaching out to other aviation schools in the region and around the country to allow their students to apply for transfer now, he said.
Bridgewater State College, a nearby institution with an aviation program, has already reached out and offered students transfer opportunities. Bridgewater officials said there is even a chance at housing if they respond soon.
School officials said that there are no personnel actions taking place at this time. Currently there are 18 flight instructors on staff. “There’s no operational plan from the flight department [on staffing],” said Seltsam-Wilps. “Everything is decided by the board of directors in Carmel, Indiana.”
The school’s aviation management and air traffic control programs will continue, although Seltsam-Wilps said that very few freshmen start in aviation management. Rather, students who don’t continue in the flight program change majors. How the lack of new flight students will affect that major has yet to be decided. “It’s very evident that this won’t be the last program to be cut,” said Seltsam-Wilps.
Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
A new FAA policy on obstructive sleep apnea that addresses many of the concerns raised by AOPA is scheduled to take effect March 2.
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association have jointly filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the ongoing legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
AOPA worked with the flight training industry and FAA to quickly resolve a problem that suddenly put many rating applications on hold.
VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN NEAR YOU!
SHARE YOUR PASSION. VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN. CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
VOLUNTEER LOCALLY AT AOPA FLY-IN! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
BE A PART OF THE FLY-IN VOLUNTEER CREW! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>