Sundance Helicopters partners with SUU for helicopter pilot development initiative

Sundance Helicopters, Inc., and the Sundance Skypath Program has partnered with Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, to bring the helicopter pilot development program to the university’s pilot candidate students.

The SkyPath program defines a career pathway and mentoring for future professional aviators and also ensures a consistent, efficient, and effective pipeline for Sundance Helicopters and industry partners to secure operationally-ready and highly-qualified helicopter pilots.

Skypath is already available at top flight schools Leading Edge Aviation in Bend, Oregon, and UND Aerospace in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Southern Utah University is the third school to become a partner.

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“Southern Utah University’s helicopter pilot program is top notch, with a program that develops excellence,” said Mark Schlaefli, director of operations for Sundance Helicopters. “I am very excited to work arm in arm with SUU bringing our pilot program to the school and to participate in the development of future professional pilots. Pilot candidates will be exposed to the industry at a very early stage, providing them with the training and development they need to be successful in the commercial aviation world.”

Through the SkyPath approach, a pilot candidate would apply for the program via select 141 partner flight schools such as Southern Utah University. As the pilot candidate progresses through ratings, they are evaluated for their performance. The second phase of the program begins once a pilot candidate has earned their commercial pilot certificate. At this stage, the pilot candidate is interviewed by a panel of evaluators from both Sundance Helicopters and the flight academy and accepted into the program.

“Sundance has taken the lead in developing a defined pathway for graduating student to enter the rotor industry,” said Michael Mower, Southern Utah University’s executive director. “SUU’s department of aviation is pleased to partner with such an outstanding leader in our industry. This partnership between our two organizations is what the rotor industry desperately needs to meet the overwhelming demand for highly qualified helicopter pilots.”

Once accepted, the pilot candidate continues through the remaining ratings at the Southern Utah University and eventually progresses into the instructional phase as a certified flight instructor. After a period of dual given and once the Part 135 minimums are met, he or she will be eligible for a guaranteed interview with Sundance Helicopters. Upon successful completion of the program, the required experience and the interview pilot candidates will be offered a training slot during the hiring season.

The program will also include an initial operating experience phase, which will emphasize direct experience over flight hours and will provide advanced training and mentoring that results in career path acceleration while adding additional layers of safety, training and mentoring.

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These steps will ensure that Sundance Helicopters has actively taken a role in the development and training of pilots from the very beginning of their careers, instilling Sundance Helicopters’ core value of safety and emphasizing decision making and the Sundance PIC culture.

SkyPath Pilot Program graduates will gain valuable experience flying with Sundance Helicopters. Sundance is a career choice in itself with the variety of potential duties and advancement opportunities. The program has also secured participation from other helicopter industry segments to provide SkyPath pilots with additional opportunities as their experience grows.

For those interested in helicopter air ambulance (HAA) there is a pathway to Air Methods Corporation, the largest operator of air medical transport in the world. For pilots with utility work as a career goal, we are proud to announce that Redding Air Service, a trusted provider of utility services since 1957 will be one of our partners and participants in the program. Other partnerships on the commercial operations side are in the works and could be announced soon.

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