Taking Flight

New partnership, planes, facility to fuel growth of aviation program

Terminal_Final

By Julie Carle

The community has had its first look at a fleet of planes and an architectural rendering of a new flight center that are part of a partnership for flight training at Bowling Green State University. The enterprise will provide greater opportunities for students, along with helping fill the world’s growing need for trained pilots and other employees in the aviation industry.

In late March the University and the Bowling Green Flight Center, operated by North Star Aviation Inc. (NSA), unveiled the planes that the flight center uses to train students to fly, along with architectural renderings of the facility that will become home to BGSU’s aviation program.

Discussing one of the refurbished planes are (left to right) Bryan Combs, senior, Gary Huntz, flight instructor, Dan Olejniczak, flight instructor, President Mary Ellen Mazey, and Venu Dasigi, interim dean of the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering.

Fresh paint and the renovated interiors of the airplanes are part of the latest step forward in this joint effort to provide a modern, well-maintained fleet for aviation students. All of the six planes in the fleet will ultimately be serviced and painted, including a Piper Seminole and two Cessna C172 Skyhawks. New glass cockpits were also installed.

The Piper Seminole, the first of the fleet to be upgraded, is considered one of the best-advanced multi-engine training planes available. The Skyhawks, part of the single-engine fleet used for private pilot, instrument and certified flight instructor training, are among the safest and most-flown general aviation aircraft available, said Kevin Doering, general manager of BG Flight Center.

“Through our parent company, North Star Aviation Inc., we are able to upgrade the planes for our flight students to make sure they have the most up-to-date and safe equipment available,” Doering explained.

BGSU and North Star in February finalized arrangements to allow the company to provide flight instruction for the aviation program.

According to Dr. Venu G. Dasigi, interim dean for the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, the agreement enables the University to expand the aviation program without increasing University costs for new equipment and additional personnel.

NSA, a full-service general aviation company based in Mankato, Minn., has established an Ohio company and will operate the training department as Bowling Green Flight Center LLC (BGFC). NSA runs a similar operation for Minnesota State University in Mankato.

As part of the agreement, BGFC will build a new hangar and classroom space, and provide flight instruction for the flight school, and BGSU will continue to provide faculty oversight for the program.

The new complex, which replaces the current training facility that was built in 1945, will feature a 8,000-plus square foot terminal and instruction space along with a 8,000-square foot hangar. The additional classroom space will include a full-motion flight simulator, all designed to expand the opportunities for the aviation students at BGSU.

“We are always looking for strategic collaborations that enhance our programs for our students,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “BG Flight Center’s willingness to modernize the fleet and improve the facility for the program is a perfect example of the strategic collaborations we are pursuing to provide optimal experiences for our students. Everyone benefits from this aviation partnership, from the students and the University, to the state and the region.”

“BGFC is experienced at providing this service in a university setting,” Dasigi said. “They teach the flight classes and our tenure-track faculty teach the remaining aviation academic courses. The college will maintain academic credentials and the flight center will remain in compliance to FAA regulations.”

He also pointed out there is no change in faculty lines with this system. “The only difference is that BGFC hires and pays the flight instructors, working in close collaboration with the University. BGSU sold its nine airplanes, equipment, tools and inventory to the flight center.

“BGSU aviation students will benefit from a private company’s ability to provide an up-to-date fleet of planes and state-of-the-art equipment,” Dasigi said. “This collaboration will allow BGFC the opportunity to assist BGSU to move forward with helping meet the rapidly growing demand for trained commercial pilots both domestically and internationally.”