November 12, 2012
By Mike Collins
Piper Aircraft Inc. and the Florida Institute of Technology announced Nov. 10 that they have launched a Piper Aviation Career Alliance. The partnership will educate and provide enhanced vocational opportunities for graduates from FIT’s aviation program, as well as graduates from other programs at the school. Piper President and CEO Simon Caldecott and Ken Stackpoole, vice president of aviation programs and dean of FIT’s College of Aeronautics, announced the program Nov. 10 during Piper’s seventy-fifth anniversary celebration at its headquarters and factory in Vero Beach, Fla.
“We’ve been neglecting” the training market, said Caldecott, who has led Piper for 13 months. “Certainly in the last five to six years, we’ve ignored the flight schools. One of our big objectives is to work with the flight schools and create long-term alliances,” he said.
Stackpoole noted that Piper moved to Vero Beach in 1957. “One year after that is when the Florida Institute of Technology was founded up in Melbourne,” he said. “We’re pleased that this alliance is going to step up the relationship.” FIT, which launched its aviation program in 1968, has been a frequent Piper customer, most recently purchasing 12 new Pipers five years ago, and soon will operate the first Archers delivered with the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit.
The five-year agreement includes new Piper training aircraft for FIT as well as enhanced career opportunities for its students and graduates through Piper internships, scholarships, career interviews, and mentoring.
“Piper is thrilled that the Florida Institute of Technology has agreed to become our launch customer for the Piper Aviation Career Alliance,” Caldecott said. “We are doubly pleased that this top-flight institution has chosen our 75th overall birthday celebration and our 55th anniversary of becoming a Florida business to make the announcement.”
FIT’s College of Aeronautics will take delivery of eight single-engine Piper Archer TX aircraft next year, and has options on 16 additional Archer or twin-engine Seminole TX trainers for future delivery. Beginning in 2013, Piper Archer TX and Seminole TX training aircraft will feature the Garmin G1000 glass-cockpit avionics suite. FIT’s Archers will be among the first Piper training aircraft equipped with the G1000 panel.
Stackpoole said the alliance will help FIT graduates secure employment in the aviation industry in airline operations, airport and airline management, and as flight crewmembers in corporate aviation, commercial operations, and government agencies,
FIT’s College of Aeronautics is recognized as one of the country’s top university-based aviation programs. There are 400 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in its programs on its Melbourne, Fla., campus, and in its aeronautical science program in Panama; many other students take courses through distance learning.
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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