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Florida Flight School Launches Groundbreaking Airline Pilot Training Program

March 4, 2019

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL — Epic Flight Academy is adding new training equipment and motion simulators in preparation for the March 2019 launch of their S.M.A.R.T. Airline Pilot Program for domestic and international flight students.

Advancements in airplane technology and radar-controlled airspace have led to significant increases in flight training complexity and cost over time. In response to the growing and evolving demand for qualified airline pilots, Epic is taking a unique approach to training.

“Students have more access to technology than ever before,” said Epic’s CEO Danny Perna, “and we recognized a shift in student learning styles over the last 10 years. Students are thriving in group settings, hands-on activities, and with visual stimulation.” The S.M.A.R.T program—which stands for Structured, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Time-Efficient—emphasizes STEM education practices and reduces overall tuition expenses.

Traditional training limits students to one-on-one lessons with an assigned instructor and introduction of concepts in the aircraft, posing a number of potential hurdles. The S.M.A.R.T. program allows students to develop fundamental skills in collaborative labs and aircraft simulators and then move on to demonstrate their knowledge in actual aircraft. This modern training strategy includes a dynamic use of visual training aids, computer-based tools, and high-tech flight simulators.

Epic began implementing the new training philosophy in 2018 during the Instrument training stage, under the direction of Epic’s Director of Flight Operations Josh Schwenn. “I immediately recognized positive results,” explained Schwenn. “Students gained confidence and skill much quicker, which resulted in less time spent in the aircraft and reduced tuition expenses.”

When the full S.M.A.R.T. program launches in March, accepted students will begin with zero aviation experience and earn their Private, Instrument, Commercial, and Flight Instructor Ratings. As certified Multi-Engine Flight Instructors, they will build flight time through a paid flight instructor position at Epic until they meet hiring requirements and go directly to the airlines.

Epic’s Chief Flight Instructor Vic Johnson played a pivotal role in the program creation alongside Perna. Bringing more than 40 years and 20,000 hours of flight instruction experience, Johnson will be leading the Private Pilot stage lab. “One huge major aspect as an industry we need to improve on is educating the general public about how they can become professional airline pilots,” said Johnson. “The initiatives implemented through the S.M.A.R.T. Program will do just that.”

Airlines today provide exceptional benefits to incoming pilots. However, flight schools continue to report that up to 80% of the students who start training never finish. The S.M.A.R.T. Airline Pilot Program not only provides an environment for students to flourish and pursue an airline career in a timely manner, but it will also inform prospective students about airlines and training options.

Epic Flight Academy has long-standing relationships with top airlines, and Perna said they plan to establish more through the S.M.A.R.T. program in the coming months.