July 9, 2012

Business sophisticates call it the issue of “succession.” Others simply call it the question of “who’ll run the company once I retire?” In both cases, the answer lies in the next generation of business aviation professionals.

“You build a pipeline,” said Dr. Tara Harl, who chairs the Aviation Department at St. Cloud University and is a member of the Professional Development Subcommittee of the NBAA Corporate Aviation Management Committee (CAMC). Harl and other members of the subcommittee developed the NBAA Business and Collegiate Aviation Pipeline Program Guide, providing information for NBAA Member Companies, regional business aviation groups and college aviation degree programs on how to work together to create opportunities for students who want to pursue careers in business aviation.

“The pipeline program is a way to link the business aviation industry to collegiate aviation programs that have either a corporate course or a full, embedded business aviation program – or just an interest in having their students exposed to the business aviation world,” Harl said.

What makes a pipeline program work is its scalability, she continued.

“Business operators and collegiate programs alike can tap into the Pipeline Program Guide and start off small by offering to be a guest lecturer in a course. They can offer tours of their hangars. They can offer apprenticeships and internships, one-on-one mentoring for students. Or they can jump in full-bore and offer a whole semester’s worth of work in an onsite lab. They can pick and choose the level for which they have the time and resources,” Harl said.

Students not only get a first-hand look at business aviation in action, but also, depending on the opportunities offered, can actually gain the type of practical knowledge they simply will not find in the classroom.

“Collegiate aviation often doesn’t have the resources to create business aviation labs because the technology changes so rapidly,” Harl added.

The Pipeline Program Guide is one of several ways NBAA supports efforts to introduce students to business aviation. The Association also offers information on how to set up a business aviation internship program, and offers a number of monetary and training scholarships, totaling almost $100,000 a year, through the generous efforts of its Member Companies.

For more information on ways to get started in developing a pipeline program for your own company, or to share feedback on the NBAA Business and Collegiate Aviation Pipeline Program Guide, contact NBAA’s Jay Evans at jevans@nbaa.org.