Wichita, Kan. (August 18, 2011) – The Members of the aircraft community, including many Embry-Riddle alumni, gathered at the monthly Wichita Aero Club luncheon on Tuesday, Aug. 17, to hear from guest speaker Dr. John P. Johnson, president and CEO of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Dr. Johnson shared many short stories to chronicle the success of Embry-Riddle students, and voiced concerns on industry issues including the need for more pilots and more safe and secure airspace.
With two residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., Embry-Riddle now has more than 150 locations worldwide and offers 35 degree programs related to the aviation and aerospace industry. Twenty-three percent of the nation’s current military and commercial pilots have been trained at Embry-Riddle, Dr. Johnson pointed out. He also noted that Embry Riddle has a local presence in Wichita, with a satellite location at McConnell Air Force Base.
Embry-Riddle prides itself on the applied research that is conducted by its students and professors to solve problems that face the industry. The University has been an integral part of research to modernize the national airspace as a part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). In addition, students are currently researching ways to replace avgas with biofuel and create unmanned aerial vehicles.
Dr. Johnson focused significant attention on the importance of establishing a satellite-based air traffic control system in the near future. For more than six years, Embry-Riddle has been testing Automatic Dependent Surveillance-B (ADS-B) satellite technology that allows pilots to detect all traffic located within their airspace. The FAA employed Embry-Riddle to test the equipment on all 100 aircraft in its fleet, and Dr. Johnson said he is pleased with the results.
“It is something that is absolutely vital to the future safety and security of air traffic,” he stated. “With ADS-B, you can get more airplanes in less space and make operations more efficient.”
From his perspective as the leader of perhaps the nation’s oldest flight education institution, Dr. Johnson addressed the critical issue facing the industry of a looming shortage of more than 400,000 pilots. While Embry-Riddle is turning out highly-educated pilots as fast as possible, other parts of the world are lacking. He expressed the need for more multi-crew pilot license (MPL) programs in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Embry-Riddle is currently partnering with Boeing to help create these programs.
Despite the challenges he raised, the ERAU President ended Tuesday’s luncheon by stating that our nation and the industry have a solid basis for confidence. With the highest GDP and an aviation industry that is the best in the world, Dr. Johnson promised that the U.S. will continue to move forward. “When you look at the data, you see a great nation that is unparalleled on this planet,” he said.
The Wichita Aero Club’s next luncheon features Dr. Peggy Chabrian, President of Women in Aviation, on September 7th at the Wichita Airport Hilton. The luncheon will begin at noon. Tickets are $40 for non-members and $30 for members of the Wichita Aero Club. More information is available at www.wichitaaeroclub.org or by calling 316-641-5962.
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