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Sun Country Airlines partners with Minnesota State in Mankato for new pilots

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sun Country Airlines on Thursday unveiled a partnership with Minnesota State University, Mankato, to offer commercial aviation students full-time employment prior to graduation through a new initiative, the Sun Country Bridge Program.

Students in the aviation program at Minnesota State can apply for the program their freshman year, said Jessica Wheeler, spokesperson for Sun Country. Applicants will be chosen on "technical requirements, professionalism, and commitment to their profession," she said

Upon completion of the program and the required flight hours, members of the program enter Sun Country's three-month pilot training program for full-time employment.

Tom Peterson, an assistant professor of aviation at Minnesota State, said there are currently 300 students enrolled in the aviation program at the college, which takes anywhere from two-and-a-half to four-and-a- half years to complete. Forty students graduated from the program in 2018.

The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) estimates a global need for 637,000 new pilots by 2036, 18 percent of which are in North America, Bloomberg reports. Wheeler said Sun Country plans to hire approximately 300 pilots over the next three years.

"This partnership is important for Sun Country Airlines and the entire aviation community, because it ensures a steady stream of highly qualified pilots," Sun Country Airlines Chief Operating Officer John Spanjers said in a statement.

Students at Minnesota State University can start applying immediately.

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