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Aviation Program Teams with ExpressJet Airlines to Provide Majors Career Pathway

EKU Aviation Fleet

Eastern Kentucky University has formed a strategic alliance with ExpressJet Airlines to provide its aviation majors with a clear pathway to a career as an airline pilot.

“EKU Aviation is working tirelessly to create seamless pathways for its graduates to go directly from their Richmond classrooms to the right seat of a regional air carrier flight deck as quickly as possible after graduation,” said Ralph Gibbs, director of the University’s Aviation Program.

This marks the first formal partnership between EKU and one of the nation’s premier regional airlines. The goal, Gibbs said, is to make EKU the airline “feeder school of choice” for every regional air carrier in the U.S.”

For its part, “ExpressJet is continuously working with new schools to develop an AP3 suited to their students, curriculum and resources,” said Brad Sheehan, vice president for Flight Ops. “The AP3 is helping to cultivate the next generation of highly-skilled commercial pilots as they prepare for careers at ExpressJet and other regionals.”

ExpressJet’s Airline Pilot Pathway Program (AP3), established in 2011, allows EKU’s students to begin a screening process early in their academic careers to set them on a clear track to becoming an airline pilot. Through highly structured and competitive requirements, the AP3 ensures that participating students achieve the highest levels of safety, proficiency and education that will prepare them for a position as a first officer at ExpressJet.

After acceptance into the program at a participating school, students must complete the AP3’s defined set of requirements, in addition to the university or flight school’s training courses, and gain experience as a flight instructor. AP3 students are monitored throughout their academic career at EKU, and current ExpressJet pilots volunteer to mentor participating students. Students who successfully complete the AP3 will be offered a guaranteed job as a first officer with ExpressJet Airlines and, later, may be guaranteed an interview at Delta Air Lines.

For more information about EKU’s partnership with ExpressJet’s AP3, contact Gibbs at 859-622-1014 or visit 

EKU’s Aviation Program, the only university-based program in Kentucky, offers degree options in Professional Flight, Aerospace Management and, beginning this fall, Aerospace Technology. Last year, the EKU Program became one of the first three universities nationally authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to designate their aviation candidates for the 1,000-hour restricted Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, resulting in considerable savings in cost and/or time for students. 

Headquartered in Atlanta, ExpressJet Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc., is the world’s largest regional airline with 9,000 aviation professionals, an average of 2,100 daily flights and an all-jet fleet of 408 aircraft. Through capacity purchase agreements, ExpressJet operates as American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express to serve 188 airports in 42 U.S. states, District of Columbia, Bahamas, Canada, Jamaica and Mexico. For more information, visit

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Published on July 10, 2014

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