CAU acquires six new Cissna planes to better address pilot shortage

Posted at 7:29 AM, Feb 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-06 12:04:52-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — To address challenges created during the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation training industry is adopting increasingly innovative solutions.

Market research suggests that over the next 20 years, the aviation industry will require over 600,000 new pilots and even more maintenance technicians to keep the global fleet in the sky. With that in mind, the California Aeronautical University here in Bakersfield has acquired six new Cessna aircrafts, which will allow them to train more pilots fast and efficiently.

“Aviation over the years has largely been served by military output," said Matthew Johnston, President of California Aeronautical University. "Over the years, that number has diminished as technology has allowed for different things to occur to not require the numbers of pilots in out forces.”

According to a Boeing study on pilot and technician outlook over the next 20 years — just in North America, the need for new pilots will be around 130,000. For technicians and cabin crew members, the need will be over 300,000.

“We’re going to need thousands of jobs over the next several years, it looks like kind of an endless need if you look at the numbers," Johnston said.

With a 22-acre campus right here in Bakersfield, CAU is looking to help fill some of those gaps.

“We’re a hidden gem here in Kern County,” Johnston said.

In an effort to keep their fleet up to date and have their students prepared to enter the workforce CAU recently added six new 2021 Cessna aircrafts, a single-engine training aircraft equipped with the latest in avionic and autopilot technology.

“These aircraft new from the factory, can actually correct themselves. So if there's unusual latitudes that a pilot gets themselves into, the auto pilot will take over and make the corrections," Johnston said.

The university is also hoping to fill the needs for new technicians as the role continues to evolve along with new technology, CAU has purged some of their older aircrafts to make room for even newer models in the next few years.

Meanwhile, the need for speed is taking on a whole new meaning, as pilot training programs work to meet a demand that keeps soaring.

“Get started right away, if they’re in an aviation pilot program," Johnston said. "They’re probably going to be flying in the first couple of weeks.”

The pilot program at CAU is a three year training program where students will receive all their FAA certifications including certificates as a private pilot, a commercial pilot, as well as a certified flight instructor.