Florida Tech and Copa Airlines Join for Flight Training

MELBOURNE, FLA.—The Florida Institute of Technology College of Aeronautics (COA) announces its association with a new flight school in Panama, the Latin American Academy for Superior Aviation (ALAS), a non-profit institution sponsored by the international airline of Panama, Copa Airlines. Ballard M. Barker, Florida Tech associate professor and director of external programs, is the project manager.

Florida Tech has made a contractual agreement to provide pilot training and management oversight for the new school, through the university’s flight training arm, FIT Aviation. Training, already begun with an initial 40 students from Panama and elsewhere in Latin America, supports Florida Tech’s ongoing program in Panama to offer aviation degrees.

The ALAS has been established at Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport (ALBROOK), a former U.S. Army base on the outskirts of Panama City.

The academy has a fleet of six aircraft, including five single-engine planes and one twin-engine airplane. Among Copa’s state-of-the art simulators is one that permits students to make the transition from piston aircraft to jet aircraft, allowing the student to grow accustomed to high speeds and the complete checklists for the Boeing 737 and Embraer models.

The new contract, for one year with potential extensions up to three years, calls for the flight training to transfer to Panama by the end of three years.

The Florida Tech College of Aeronautics since 2001 has provided degree programs in Panama, including a bachelor’s degree in aviation administration with and without the commercial flight option; a two-year program for aircraft dispatch technicians; and a two-and-a-half year program for maintenance technicians. Offering flight training in Panama complements these offerings.

“The new agreement fills an important niche in two ways. We are helping to provide a high-quality source of pilots for Copa, one of Latin America’s biggest and best airlines, and we are supporting our own degree programs with flight training,” said Vice President for Aviation Programs and Dean of the College of Aeronautics Ken Stackpoole. “This expansion of flight training in Latin America also fulfills one of our strategic goals.”

More information is available at www.copa.com.

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