The University of Maine at Augusta has acquired a new Cirrus SR20 GS airplane that will allow the university to continue its expansion of state-of-the-art pilot instruction in Maine. UMA, the only university in the state and one of only two in New England to offer degrees in both traditional flight and remote pilot instruction, acquired the plane for its aviation degree and certificate programs to help solve a critical workforce gap in pilot training, and make it easier for veterans to pursue aviation careers after their military service.
UMA’s aviation program began in 2013 and was established as a public-private partnership between UMA and Maine Instrument Flight of Augusta. Flight training was completed at the Augusta Airport and Academic training was completed at UMA. Maine Instrument Flight has FAA Certified Part 141 Flight training for Private Pilot, Instrument, Commercial, and Certified Flight Instructor.
Combined with the university’s existing flight simulators located at Brunswick Landing, Brunswick, and it’s partnership with MIF in Augusta, “the SR20 is the cornerstone of a pilot training program that will compete with any other program in the east”, says Greg Jolda, aviation instructor and program coordinator. “Greg has an amazing vision for the future of the pilot training program at UMA and with Maine Instrument Flight. We are proud to partner with UMA and can’t wait to see the SR20 in action”, says Chad Morris, owner and CEO of Maine Instrument Flight.
The new UMA Cirrus plane will provide students with training in high performance aircraft with the latest cockpit design. New training syllabi for Private, Instrument, and Commercial will include specialized simulation and Virtual Reality training, all with the objective of providing the best in flight training with the most efficient use of the student’s financial resources. Use of simulation and Virtual Reality will have an environmental impact as well, saving a significant amount of fuel.
In addition to the new Cirrus, UMA also has a full-motion Redbird FMX Simulator, and a commercial 737 Simulator at its Brunswick location. The simulators are recognized by the FAA as an Advanced Aircraft Training Device, meaning students can log time toward Private, Instrument, and Commercial certifications in the training device toward the completion of certification requirements. UMA has also taken a page from the Air Force’s UPT 2.0 and is beginning to implement the use of Virtual Reality in its training. These efforts not only keep aviation students safer, it significantly reduces their education costs associated with actual flying an airplane.
UMA’s public aviation program is among the nation’s most affordable and produces pilots for a range of in-demand career options from commercial flight to public safety and health to agriculture applications.
UMA’s aviation program has already demonstrated its job producing capacity and has an established pipeline of immediate job placement with MIF in Maine. Jolda says, “We’ve had five graduates that were instructors at MIF and then secured positions at regional airlines. Plus, we currently have seven graduates serving as Instructors there. These students will remain as instructors for at least 2–3 years, building up flying time, to expand their career opportunities.” Other graduates have gone on to work as first officers for airlines like Southwest and other major airlines.
For more information about UMA’s aviation program, visit https://uma.edu/aviation.