Republic Airways Holdings and the Leadership in Flight Training (LIFT) Academy are developing a new, advanced flight training program, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday. The program will be made available to all students this fall.

The center will train students at Moton Field using the academy’s signature fleet of Diamond DA40-NG single-engine and Diamond DA42-VI twin-engine aircraft. Advanced flight simulators will also be used. The students will be trained for jobs in the commercial airline industry and they will finish the program with a bachelor’s degree in aviation science from Tuskegee University as well as a commercial multi-engine pilot license.

“Alabama has a long history of providing critical flight training for military aviators, and historic Moton Field is the perfect location for a training center for a new generation of commercial pilots,” said Ivey. “The LIFT Academy is an ideal way to build on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by creating solid career opportunities for tomorrow’s pilots.”

Community and state leaders joined Ivey for the announcement. University representatives are optimistic that the new flight program will help an industry where the pilot shortage is expected to worsen as demand for air travel continues to grow. 

“Tuskegee University is proud to continue a tradition that has contributed so much to the country through the courage and skills provided by the Tuskegee Airmen. A new generation of Tuskegee airmen and women will have the training they will need to serve our country through the military or as commercial pilots,” said Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, president of Tuskegee University. “What pleases me most is the enthusiasm with which we see young students ready to step up today to become such an important part of history. The new partnership with LIFT and Republic will build leaders and legacies.”

“The LIFT Academy project at Moton Field will have massive impacts on Macon County not only through the creation of jobs at the airfield but also the high-paying careers that will stem from the flight training,” said Ellen McNair, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We’re looking forward to supporting this initiative because it will be a real game changer for the community and its citizens, as well as Tuskegee University and its students.”

The $27 million capital investment in aircraft will create 35 jobs and employ 57 certified flight instructors. U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) secured $6.7 million in federal funding.

“The economic investment and new jobs created by Republic/LIFT in concert with the community and Tuskegee University are significant and only the beginning towards making Moton Field a hotbed for aviation economic development,” said Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority. “It adds another layer of success for us and diversifies our recent gains in manufacturing and retail. It will also add demand for housing and services that will lift the quality of life for all our county citizens.”

“We are excited to grow our aviation community in Alabama,” said Matt Koscal, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Republic Airways Holdings Inc. “This expansion is possible due to Governor Ivey’s strong leadership in workforce development, which is bringing significant opportunities for aviation education and training and creating new jobs throughout the state. By joining forces with Tuskegee University and its esteemed heritage, we are honored to enable opportunity and shape the next generation of commercial pilots.”

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