Baton Rouge Community College announced today its newest degree program, Associate of Applied Science, Helicopter Pilot Operations. In partnership with Guidance Aviation, an award-winning collegiate helicopter flight training organization, this degree program is VA Chapter 33 benefits approved for eligible U.S. Military Veterans utilizing their Post 9/11 GI bill benefits. Graduates of this program will earn their Associate of Applied Science degree as well as become Certificated Flight Instructors with instrument rating, necessary to start their careers as professional helicopter pilots.
This is an important milestone for the State of Louisiana, Baton Rouge Community College, and Guidance Aviation as it is the first and only collegiate helicopter flight training program based in the State of Louisiana. The program is part of the College’s new Center of Excellence in Transportation Technology, approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.
The Center will be targeting the areas of Automotive Technology, Aviation Technology, Logistics and Security, and Pipeline Transportation. The Center will be utilizing multiple locations around the area, including the new Smiley Heights Development, the Baton Rouge Airport, and a newly leased training facility located on Hooper Road.
The demand for qualified Helicopter pilots in the Gulf region has skyrocketed over the past five years as a disproportionate number of helicopter pilots have retired and the need is expected to dramatically increase throughout the next five years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts job growth in the helicopter industry as careers for helicopter pilots are expected to increase up to 21 percent between 2010 and 2020. Furthermore, the Oil and Gas industry, Emergency Medical Services, and Law Enforcement have all seen significant growth with respect to the use of helicopters.
Established in 1998, Guidance Aviation is a leading pilot training organization. Guidance is the first FAA approved Part 141 high-altitude helicopter flight training facility in the U.S. and has extensive experience training helicopter pilots within a collegiate environment. On June 21, 2013, Guidance Aviation CEO, John Stonecipher, was awarded the prestigious title of Business Person of The Year by the United States Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C. The award was based on criteria including financial strength, sustained hiring, and continuous growth. Guidance Aviation currently has a staff of 55 employees and 15 aircraft including Robinson R22s, R44s and the new Robinson R66 turbine helicopter.
“Partnerships with industry leaders like Guidance Aviation are really the key to success of this program,” said Andrea Lewis Miller, Chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College. “Technology in the automotive and aviation fields is evolving so quickly, we really will rely on our partners to help us ensure we are meeting the industry needs and maintaining a world class center.”
“Baton Rouge is the perfect location and Baton Rouge Community College is the perfect partner. Our flight operations in Baton Rouge will specialize in pilot training for off-shore helicopter operations. The Baton Rouge airport (BTR) is strategically located next to the busiest helicopter operations in the world: the Gulf of Mexico’s oil and gas platforms. This location is embedded in the real world flight operations of professional off-shore helicopter pilots. It is an honor to be a part of the Center of Excellence along with the automotive industry at Baton Rouge Community College and we are excited to create more opportunities and more jobs in the state of Louisiana,” states Stonecipher, CEO, Guidance Aviation.