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CMU cleared for takeoff in new SkyWest Airlines partnership

Grand Junction – Students of the CMU/WCCC pilot training program have gained access to the SkyWest Airlines Pilot Pathway Program. This partnership provides a career pathway for students with the desire to fly for a commercial airline. Students in the Pilot Pathway Program will receive mentorship by SkyWest pilots, enhanced company seniority, guaranteed final first officer interview and top seniority in ground school. Learn more about the Pilot Pathway Program.

“SkyWest has a longtime presence in Grand Junction, which helped us turn their local presence into a new partnership,” said CMU President Tim Foster. “SkyWest is a large company whose potential future investments in our students will be beneficial to their workforce and the quality of our pilot program.”

The airline industry faces what some analysts have called a cascading shortfall of pilots and mechanics nationwide. A combination of pilot retirements and federal regulations have left the industry with challenges, while giving universities an expanded opportunity to help prepare the next generation of pilots.

Brigitte Sundermann, WCCC vice president of community college affairs, said the partnership is just the beginning of an effort that could lead to tripling the program’s size.

“As a division of CMU, WCCC shares in an entrepreneurial culture that exists on all CMU campuses. We work at being nimble and responsive when it comes to filling workforce needs wherever we find them — on the ground or in the air,” said Sundermann. “We will spend the next several years working to grow the pilot program and strengthen our partnership with SkyWest.”

Officials from SkyWest visited CMU on November 13 for a program review and campus tour that resulted in finalizing the initial partnership.

Executive Director of the Grand Junction Regional Airport Angela Padalecki assisted CMU in soliciting the partnership and is enthusiastic about the collaboration.

“Working collaboratively to build aviation capacity in western Colorado is important and may contribute to future partnerships we may not even contemplate today,” said Padalecki. "Hosting SkyWest representatives alongside CMU was a good opportunity to explore how the aviation community can work with CMU to expand the aviation workforce moving forward.”

Under the new partnership, SkyWest will send aviation professionals and company experts to consult with the pilot training program on an ongoing basis.

The CMU Foundation, the WCCC pilot training program community advisory board and local donors plan to raise scholarships to assist in supporting program expansion. Community members interested in learning more about the pilot training program at WCCC are encouraged to visit WCCC Aviation Technology.