Skip to Content

LIFT Academy Furthers Indy as Aviation Career Development Hub

Indiana-based aviation programs are helping the industry combat the Silver Tsunami

INDIANAPOLIS (May 31, 2018) – The Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director Mario Rodriguez said Indianapolis is becoming a national hub for aviation career development, in light of Republic Airways’ announcement today regarding the Leadership in Flight Training Academy that will be located on the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) campus.

“The aviation industry requires a plethora of diverse professionals that make up a strong talent pipeline to operate and maintain aircraft and airport facilities,” said Rodriguez. “Republic Airways’ new flight training academy is a major contribution to the larger aviation career development landscape that’s growing here in Indiana.”

Republic’s launch of the LIFT academy will address the U.S. aviation industry’s anticipated shortage of 3,500 commercial pilots by offering an alternative to traditional four-year college career paths, providing high school graduates and military veterans the opportunity to become first officers at Republic Airlines. Students can complete training and the FAA-required flight hours and earn a commercial pilot certification, with the guarantee path to Republic Airlines (in three years or less).

Rodriguez points out that the pilot shortage Republic is working to address is part of a larger concern that’s looming across the aviation industry – which supports nearly 11 million jobs, and contributes nearly $2 trillion to the U.S. economy.

“Programs like LIFT and other Indiana-based aviation programs are helping the industry combat the Silver Tsunami, which is a generational wave of employee retirements that are going to leave a gap in staffing and institutional knowledge,” said Rodriguez. “It’s serious for our industry, because aviation is critical to our way of life.”

Youth programs like the Aviation Career Education Academy, also located in Indianapolis and supported by the IAA, will complement the LIFT Academy’s efforts to introduce more people to the aviation industry. Indy ACE Academy, founded by Republic Airlines pilot Ryan Lynch, provides middle-school and high-school students with early introduction to a range of aviation careers via a two-week, summer camp program.

More than 1,000 students have participated in the ACE summer camp program, with more than 800 continuing into the aviation industry after their high school graduations. 

The Indy airport campus is also home to the Vincennes University Aviation Technology Center, which gives students pursuing a career in aviation the opportunity to earn a two-year degree in aviation flight technology or Federal Aviation Administration certification in aviation maintenance. The ATC also offers programming for high school students in both aviation flight and aviation maintenance technology.

Beginning in 2019, Vincennes University flight students will complete their flight training at the LIFT Academy, with the opportunity to become part of the Republic Airways career pathway program. Additionally, LIFT Academy students will have the option to further enhance their experience by pursuing an online associate’s degree from VU. 

In addition to the LIFT Academy and the VU ATC, Hoosier students can follow a collegiate aviation career path through education from other Indiana schools, such as Indiana State University and Purdue University Polytechnic Institute. Indiana State’s Department of Aviation Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in professional aviation flight technology, aviation management, and unmanned systems while providing services through a flight academy.

Purdue’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology provides undergraduate majors in aeronautical engineering technology, aerospace financial analysis, airline management and operations, airport management and operations, aviation management, professional flight and unmanned aerial systems.

With today’s announcement, Republic Airways’ LIFT Academy will become another significant piece to Indianapolis’ contribution to developing the U.S. aviation talent pipeline. Student recruitment for the LIFT Academy begins today, with monthly enrollment opportunities. The first class will begin in September.

“Republic’s continued investment in Indiana is a big win for our state and its workforce,” said Governor Eric Holcomb. “We’re full steam ahead to ensure Indiana’s talented Hoosiers are equipped with the skills they need for a 21st century economy.”