Updated 

Flight program bill advances


The state House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill Tuesday that looks to further implement the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Community College’s aviation programs.

SB 3092 now heads to a conference committee to decide the final appropriation amount and the effective date before the end of this year’s legislative session, scheduled for May 1.

Last year, $100,000 was appropriated to begin the first steps into launching the Hilo International Flight Training Center.

University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney used the funds to hire aviation program expert Ray Bédard, of Prescott, Ariz.

Bédard recently retired after a long career in aviation, most recently serving as an assistant professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

According to a report summary, UH-Hilo could theoretically launch in August 2015 with 25 students, offering a Baccalaureate of Science in Aeronautical Science, with training following three tracks:

• Fixed wing professional pilots.

• Fixed wing flight education pilots.

• And remotely piloted aircraft systems, or drones.

The degree would require eight semesters and students could complete them within 2.5 years.

Flight revenue generated from each student was estimated to be $13,923, with the school operating at a more than $200,000 loss its first year.

SB 3092 does not include a funding amount. An earlier version of the bill asked for $450,000 for fiscal year 2014-15.

Bédard made the following statement about the House vote.

“Mahalo Nui Loa to all of you that submitted testimony and offered your support these last few months,” he said. “The dream of a world class aviation program in Hawaii continues.”

Email Megan Moseley at mmoseley@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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