New heights: BGSU aviation program receives prestigious AABI accreditation
The aviation program at Bowling Green State University has received the highest level of recognition possible for a collegiate aviation program, with its accreditation by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI).
“This achievement reflects the hard work of BGSU’s faculty and staff,” said Dr. Joe B. Whitehead Jr., provost and senior vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. “Receiving AABI accreditation affirms that our aviation students are receiving the highest quality of education and can be confident in their training upon entering the workforce. Airlines and other employers in the industry seek students who graduate from AABI-accredited aviation programs.”
BGSU was granted a five-year accreditation, the longest interval possible, for its two aviation bachelor’s degree programs, aviation management and operations, and flight technology and operations.
The more than a yearlong accreditation process included a five-day virtual site visit this past fall in which the AABI accreditation team met with students, faculty and staff to review everything from curriculum to facilities and learning outcomes.
According to AABI, to achieve accreditation, aviation programs must satisfy the expectations of a wide range of quality criteria relating to strategic management of resources, interactions of faculty and students in the educational process and achievement of degree learning goals.
“It is an extremely rigorous process from start to finish,” said Dr. Jennie Gallimore, dean of the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering. “There is a tremendous amount of work and dedication that goes into accreditation based on AABI standards.”
Opening new doors
For BGSU students, AABI accreditation could lead to new career opportunities.
Major airlines look to aviation programs to meet industry demand, and Dr. Michael Ferguson, BGSU aviation program director, said the aviation industry often seeks AABI accredited programs to build a workforce pipeline, ensuring aspiring aviation professionals have received a high-quality, industry-standard training.
“This is a significant accomplishment and recognition,” Ferguson said. “It can open doors of opportunities for our students because of the assurance the aviation industry has in their training with this prestigious accreditation.”
The demand for aviation professionals continues to grow significantly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for new pilots is expected to grow faster than average over the next 10 years to meet increased demand and access to air travel.
A reputation for aviation excellence
BGSU has been training students for careers in the aviation industry for more than 40 years and is one of only a few universities in the country that has an airport on its main campus.
Students majoring in aviation can choose from two specializations, flight technology and operations, and aviation management and operations, to meet their career goals.
The flight technology and operations program trains students to become commercial pilots, with an opportunity for students to begin flying as soon as their freshman year.
Students take classes at the Bowling Green Flight Center, located on campus at the Wood County Regional Airport. The Flight Center, which includes more than 20,000 square feet of hangar space, houses a fleet of 18 aircraft, classrooms, flight instruction offices, a full-motion RedBird simulator and a FRASCA simulator.
Ferguson said the AABI accrediting team was particularly impressed with the fleet of aircraft students use for training.
“Our planes are relatively new and feature modern technology, including a glass cockpit,” Ferguson said. “Our training aircraft reflects the majority of planes being flown in the aviation industry, and that is an important advantage for our students.”
In addition to AABI accreditation, the Bowling Green Flight Center is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved Part 141 flight school, which means there is significantly less flight time needed to achieve a restrict airline transport pilot (R-ATP) certificate.
Part 141 flight schools have a strictly defined training environment. The BGSU flight training program has been designed for the career-minded pilot and offers a curriculum geared toward professionals. The FAA reviews curriculum on a regular basis, checking for consistency, continuity and acceptable flight training practices.
Upon graduation, students earn a Bachelor of Science in aviation and an FAA private pilot certificate, FAA instrument rating and FAA commercial pilot single engine and multi-engine certificates. Students also have the opportunity to earn a certified flight instructor rating while at BGSU.
Students who pursue an aviation management and operations program are prepared for the business and managerial aspects of the aviation industry.
Graduates are aviation-minded business professionals and are employed by airports, airlines, engineering and consulting firms, general aviation facilities and auxiliary businesses.
Upon graduation, students obtain positions in a variety of aviation industry roles including airline management, airport management, aircraft leasing and purchasing, aviation consulting and more.
BGSU is the only AABI-accredited program in northwest Ohio and only one of three in the state.