By Brianna Forte
In response to the stay-at-home order issued by Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, the Florida Tech Aviation program has banned students from flight training indefinitely as of April 8.
According to the Associate Dean of Flight Operations, Isaac Silver, Florida Institute of Technology Aviation originally suspended operations after spring break on March 13 to assess the COVID-19 outbreak, and determine what the best policies and practices to continue flight training would be.
“We also needed to source the required cleaning materials and PPE [personal protective equipment],” Silver said. “Following the guidance from the industry groups, the FAA, the CDC, and the Florida Governor’s Office, operations at FITA remain suspended,” he added.
Silver listed safety as a critical driving force within aviation in order to mitigate potential risks.
According to Buse Dayioglu, a graduate student in applied aviation safety, the last email that flight students received on April 8 stated that there was no clear date of when flight lessons would resume.
Dayioglu said this unforeseen delay in flight training has disrupted the progress of many students. Some flight students were close to completing check rides, which are similar to final exams and allow pilots to complete certifications.
In addition to impacting the progress of students, once flight training resumes additional time and training will be required to review skills according to Dayioglu.
“Stopping flight training in the middle of training does have some results such as having to do a few remedial flights to make sure we remember everything,” Dayioglu said. “This costs money and time for us students.”
Carlos Obregon, a senior in aeronautical science with flight, is one flight student impacted by this delay.
“In order to graduate you have to finish your commercial license,” Obregon explained. According to Obregon, he had eleven lessons left before his check ride. Because Obregon was not able to finish his commercial license, he will not be able to graduate this May.
Silver said that seniors who have not yet finished their flight courses are most affected by this.
“We know the students who are at critical points in their training and getting them finished up is part of the first phase once we’re able to resume,” Silver said.
Obregon said that he was frustrated that he won’t be able to graduate in May, however he does not want to put his safety at risk either. “I’d rather the world go back to normal as fast as possible than I delay that by not social distancing,” Obregon said.
Besides the unfinished seniors and students close to check flights, Silver is not particularly stressed about FITA students.
“For the majority of our students, the delay should not adversely impact their ability to graduate on time,” Silver said. “The flight training program typically only occupies four to six semesters of their degree, so there will be time for them to catch back up prior to their expected graduation dates.”
Silver said he would like to remind FITA students that short delays in flight training are “just a blip on the radar of a lifelong aviation career.”