UND, Frontier Airlines agree to new career pathway partnership

Photo by: University of North Dakota
Photo by: University of North Dakota

(Grand Forks, ND) -- The University of North Dakota and Frontier Airlines recently reached an agreement creating a career pathway program for students in the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Frontier Airlines joins a robust list of U.S. airlines that have established similar programs with UND Aerospace – providing commercial aviation students with an opportunity to interview at a major airline prior to graduation.

“We are very excited for this new and unique partnership with Frontier Airlines,” said Elizabeth Bjerke, associate dean of UND Aerospace. “Not only are they providing an amazing opportunity for our graduates, they are also partnering with the University to provide training and educational experiences for our faculty and staff in order to keep them proficient and current in advanced aircraft operations.

Upon a successful interview process with Frontier, students will then have a predetermined, accelerated route to meet training requirements and join the airline’s pilot workforce. Through the program’s requirements, this new agreement with Frontier will also help UND in its need for advanced flight instruction, according to UND Aerospace.

“We are thrilled to partner with the University of North Dakota to support this exciting career pathway program for future pilots,” said Brad Lambert, vice president of flight operations for Frontier Airlines. “This novel agreement will enhance our future pilot pipeline and bring valuable training expertise to the University. It’s a true win for both organizations.”

Kent Lovelace, UND’s director of aviation industry relations, highlighted what makes this latest agreement unique among other pathway programs from major airlines.

“Instead of going to a regional carrier after graduation, students with 1,000 hours of flight time who are selected by Frontier Airlines will go directly to Frontier for training and operating experience, flying their aircraft” Lovelace said. “Following around 40 hours of operating experience training at Frontier, a select number of those in the program will come back to UND and serve as flight instructors in advanced aircraft operations courses.”

Due to the industry-wide demand for pilots, UND Aerospace has been challenged to keep instructors with appropriate experience to teach higher-level “jet transition” courses such as multi-engine systems and advanced aircraft operations – courses that are crucial for students who want to work for major airlines, Lovelace said.

Pilots coming back to UND will instruct for 250 hours before resuming their careers at Frontier Airlines. During their time at UND, pilots will retain their benefits and earn a salary equal to what they would earn at Frontier, Lovelace said.

“Frontier came to us and said, ‘How can we set this up to where we both win,’” Lovelace remarked. “The resulting program is a concept that’s unique compared to most, and it will help us have a cadre of qualified instructors for advanced instruction purposes.”