* After pact with Horizon, Hillsboro school aims to be training ground for commercial pilots
A Hillsboro flight school known as one of the biggest on the West Coast on Monday announced a partnership with Horizon Air to launch a program to develop pilots for the Seattle-based regional airline.
Horizon, a division of Seattle-based Alaska Air Group, will offer stipends to eligible students of up to $7,500 to complete the training program. Students that accept the stipend will receive a conditional job offer at Horizon, according to a news release.
The training program is part of Horizon's effort to create a new pipeline of talent as demand for trained pilot surges. The airline industry will need an estimated 558,000 new commercial airline pilots over the next 20 years, or about 28,000 per year, according to an industry forecast by aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co.
"With the looming pilot shortage, Horizon is excited to partner with high quality aviation programs like Hillsboro Aero Academy to enhance our recruiting efforts and ensure the next generation of pilots look to Horizon as a place they can build their career in aviation," LaMar Haugaard, Horizon Air's director of pilot development and recruiting, said in a news release.
The Horizon stipends — which, at $7,500, would equal about 11 percent of the program's total estimated cost — will be available to Hillsboro Aero Academy students who have completed private pilot certification and are working toward completing their Commercial Pilot Certificate.
Hillsboro Aero Academy, which operates out of the Port of Portland's Hillsboro Airport, also said it will provide $143,000 in funding towards individual advanced certifications for students.
It hopes the partnership with Horizon will help recruit new students into its program, while providing existing students the opportunity to fly as first officers or pilots with Horizon after completing their program.
The flight school has operated for more than 37 years and trains around 700 students per year from across the globe.
A year ago, Hillsboro Aviation — the operator of the Hillsboro Airport — sold the school to a pair of private equity buyers: Renovus Capital Partners, a $180 million education-focused fund based outside of Philadelphia, and Graycliff Partners, a private equity and investment firm with offices in New York and Brazil.