After divesting its flight training operations in March, Ohio-based Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is now partnering with Mankato, Minnesota-based North Star Aviation to run the school’s flight training program. Under the arrangement, North Star will run the Bowling Green Flight Center (BGFC), while the university will continue to provide faculty oversight for the program.
Bowling Green State University put out a request for proposal and North Star and several other companies responded, said Christine Doering, the flight school’s marketing manager. “BGSU choose North Star out of three finalists. North Star Aviation has been providing flight training with great success for Minnesota State University in Mankato,” she said.
After creating the aviation program in 1978, the university decided recently to use a third-party provider for several reasons, said Doering. “BGSU is constantly looking at ways of collaborating to improve services to their students and bolster its academic offerings. The aviation program was a good opportunity for BGSU to follow through,” she said. “They have done this in other colleges on campus and it has ... been a win-win for the students. With Bowling Green Flight Center now handling the flight portion, the university can concentrate on the academic sector of the partnership.”
The program currently has 120 students, 20 of whom are in the aviation management program. “The rest are in our flight program, with plans to complete their private, instrument, commercial, and multiengine ratings,” said Doering. “We also offer a flight instructing training course for extra credit because we do hire students to become instructors.”
As part of its deal with the university, BGFC is building a new 8,800-square-foot flight center and a new 8,000-square-foot hangar in 2014, all to help improve quality and efficiency, said Doering. “The building will have two classrooms, 14 cubicles for our flight instructors, two faculty offices, a simulator room for two sims, a conference room, four staff offices and a very large atrium area,” she said. “We have purchased a Redbird full-motion simulator, which will also be put in the new building. We’re hoping to break ground by the end of July, with Jan. 1 as a move-in date.”
Bowling Green Flight Center uses six airplanes: a Piper Seminole, a Piper Arrow, and four Cessna 172s. “We purchased them from BGSU and repainted all planes, installed new interiors, upgraded avionics, and added Garmin 500 to several planes,” said Doering. “They all look and smell new.”
With all the other universities with their own aviation programs, the Bowling Green Flight Center has unique benefits, said Doering. “The airport is located at the university-owned airport on campus, [which is] only five to 10 minute walk from resident halls. The intense ground training and four-season, all-weather, flight instruction has produced a history of excellent ratings from the FAA,” she said. “BGSU has special on-campus housing in McDonald resident hall that is available for our aviation students. And freshman start flying within the first week of arriving at school.”
Bowling Green State University has an FAA Part 141-approved flight education and training program, said Doering. “The FAA has recently clarified the new Restricted Airline Transport Pilot certificate. The new rules require airline first officers to hold an ATP and to have logged 1,500 hours of flight time, or an R-ATP license and 1,000 hours if they've graduated from an approved four-year aviation college,” she said in an email. “Graduates will need to obtain a certifying statement from the institution of higher education to show eligibility for an ATP certificate with less than 1,500 hours. The certifying statement cannot be given until the school has received the letter of authorization from the FAA approving the degree and the school has completed individual transcript reviews. BGSU Aviation has received the letter of authorization from the FAA.”
Doering works with the university and alone to recruit new students to the program. “Right now, we’re not the biggest aviation school, but we’re more family oriented because our classes are smaller. But our goal is to grow the program,” she said. “We are looking forward to helping meet the increased pilot need, which is already affecting the industry. With this new partnership it puts us in a better position to serve the students and prepare them for a vocation in aviation.”