Regional Airline Academy, a Florida-based flight training school, will soon open its second campus at Mesa’s Williams Gateway Airport.
Offering a combination of classroom and hands-on flight experience, the school trains students for careers within the commercial airlines industry, said said Pat McSweeney, vice president of airline training.
"Our business is in providing airlines with pilots. People come to us with zero flight time and when they finish with us, we get them a job," McSweeney said.
The school’s arrival brings jobs and students to the airport and boosts Williams Gateway’s reputation and profile among aviators and private industry, said Marie Frank, airport spokeswoman.
"It is a focus of ours to be a flight training center. It adds to the airport’s exposure and we’re really pleased that they’ve chosen not only Arizona, but Williams Gateway," Frank said.
The school is the first to offer commercially oriented flight training for novices at the airport and joins a host of other aviation programs that use the airport.
Such programs include Advanced Training Systems International which works with military pilots, Silver State Helicopters which trains people as commercial helicopter pilots and academic programs focusing on aviation through both Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Arizona State University East, Frank said.
McSweeney said that school leaders were assisted by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and chose the airport because of its large facilities, Arizona’s climate and the Valley’s proximity to other Western markets.
Its first training program begins on June 7 and the response is expected to take off from there, McSweeney said.
"We’re going to grow this into a full campus with dormitories over the next few years. By this time next year, we hope to have somewhere between 250 and 300 students," McSweeney said.