Russ College Department of Aviation Chair Bryan Branham congratulates Dean Dennis Irwin on the signing of the pilot bridge agreement with PSA Airlines, represented by Vice President of Safety Randy Fusi.
Officials from Dayton-based PSA Airlines and Ohio University’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology have signed a bridge agreement that will increase employment opportunities for aviation flight students and secure a consistent recruiting pipeline for the airline.
“All of us at PSA Airlines are excited to have this formal agreement with Ohio University,” said Randy Fusi, PSA’s vice president of safety. “OHIO aviation graduates have had great success in our training program, better than any other university grads.”
The agreement, signed by Fusi, Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin and Department of Aviation Chair Bryan Branham at the Ohio University Airport in Albany on Aug. 7, outlines how students will move through the student pilot bridge program.
Qualified aviation students from Ohio University can apply for an internship with PSA, which guarantees them an interview spot after graduation with the regional airline, a subsidiary of USAirways.
Successful full-time applicants with appropriate aircraft ratings could then join the company’s pilot training program and pursue a pilot rating in PSA’s primary aircraft, the Canadair Regional Jet 200.
“Students are exposed to an airline atmosphere, and PSA is able to provide input and guidance during internships,” said Department of Aviation Chair Bryan Branham. “It’s simply a win-win for all involved.” Joel Cress, a 2000 aviation flight graduate from the Russ College, entered PSA’s pilot training program in January 2001 after a call from one of his former professors, who had been contacted by a recruiter for pilot referrals.
Cress’s success is an example of the strong recruiting relationship PSA and the Russ College have established over the last few decades. He said the bridge agreement sets the stage for even more pilot employment opportunities for Russ College students moving forward.
“They have a career path,” Cress said, since pilots often have to delay employment until they’ve acquired sufficient flight hours to be hired by a commercial airline. Flight-hour minimums were increased by the FAA last year, creating a recruiting challenge for airlines looking to hire recent graduates.
“PSA will benefit from the quality product that comes out of here, but also have people in the pipeline ready to go as vacancies open up for first officers,” Cress said.
The airline hopes to secure its recruiting pipeline for top-notch pilot candidates by offering aviation students these opportunities for commercial flight experience before graduation.
PSA has had a long history of success with Russ College graduates, as 100 percent of the college’s graduates hired by PSA have successfully completed the airline’s commercial training program.
“We have had amazing success with OU graduates at PSA,” said Mike Douglas, PSA first officer and pilot recruiter. “We really want this time to be a celebration of this new relationship.”