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Flexjet launches AeroSphere education programme with Purdue
Support from Purdue will enhance Flexjet's investment in its maintenance and product support employees, and provide teams with a high level of professional fulfilment along with an enormous competitive advantage.
Flexjet partners meet Manoj Patankar, head of Purdue University's CREATE lab, at their headquarters in Richmond Heights, Ohio. (Photo: Flexjet)

Flexjet is to develop a learning, working and innovation hub with Purdue University's Center for Research and Education in Advanced Technology Ecosystems (CREATE). AeroSphere for Business Aviation will combine aviation education with one of the largest private aviation operators in the world.

The key philosophy behind it is symbiosis: Purdue's education programme feeds into Flexjet's business operations. In turn, Flexjet provides hands-on experiences that will inform and guide Purdue's education programme. It is an environment where students and professionals alike learn not just from textbooks and simulators, but from real-world experiences and challenges faced by global aviation companies like Flexjet.

Kevin Dillon, a senior executive overseeing Flexjet's global maintenance facilities, and a Purdue graduate, says: "Our goal in partnering with Purdue University was simple: We wanted to align the best academic university in the world for aviation and aerospace technology with the best global business jet operator and create a new approach to professional development that is unlike anything we have seen in our industry."

AeroSphere will serve as a career accelerator with Purdue, assisting Flexjet in redesigning the company's professional development and educational programmes for both its apprenticeship programme (pre-professional training) as well as advanced continuing education for its licensed technicians (post-professional training). The Flexjet apprentice programme takes candidates who have been vetted for aptitude and company culture from zero experience to licensed aviation technician (A&P as well as advanced avionics training) in just over two years. The apprentices earn full-time wages while training and graduate with a job offer from Flexjet.

"The support from Purdue will further enhance our ongoing efforts to invest in the more than 1,300 people employed in Flexjet's global maintenance and product support division," says Jay Heublein, senior executive for global maintenance and product support. "This partnership will radically change the world of technician education, which will in turn provide our team members with an incredible level of professional fulfilment while also providing Flexjet with an enormous competitive advantage as we look to continue expanding our overall support infrastructure."

"There are three distinguishing features of AeroSphere," adds Manoj Patankar, director of CREATE at Purdue University. "It is built on the new Part 147 requirements, it matches the best of on-the-job training and online learning, and it is competency-based."

Mike Suckow, associate director of CREATE, also notes: "This 'lab-to-life' experience ensures students can immediately apply what they have learned. Reciprocally, it also brings life back into labs, to ensure that the academic side stays current and relevant. This constant feedback loop ensures a vibrant, dynamic learning environment."

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