Predicting Pilot-in-training Success and Persistence in a Private South Eastern United States University

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Maria Chaparro Osman
Vivek Sharma
Cherrise Ficke
Rian Menta
Brooke Wheeler
Meredith Carroll


Commercial pilot numbers have been on a decline since 2009, while in parallel, pilot demands continue to rise. In order to close the gap, airlines and companies need a steady stream of pilots-in-training who have successfully graduated. However, collegiate flight training programs have had issues with low retention and low success rates of pilots-in-training. The need to understand how to retain students within collegiate flight programs and increase success rates is vital to fill the gaps present within the aviation industry. Past studies have investigated predictive factors for pilots-in-training graduation persistence and the time it takes to graduate yielding similar findings. Many factors have been identified as related to pilot-in-training success and persistence, the most common being high school GPA and cost. However, suggestions have been presented as variables of interest to examine for future studies, such as the effect of different types of flight postponements. The research study conducted expanded the knowledge regarding variables that predict or contribute to pilot-in-training success in a collegiate aviation flight degree program, examining graduation persistence and time to graduate. An archival data of 262 pilot-in-training students were used to explore the relationship between the 19 predictors, graduation persistence, and time to graduate. Several variables had significant relationships with both Time to Graduate and Persistence Before Dropout, including Age, Number of Transfer Credits, Class Load, and Pass Rates in Aeronautics Classes. Additionally, Time to Graduate had a significant relationship with Academic Success in Aeronautics Classes and Maintenance Postponements per Semester. Persistence Before Dropout had a significant relationship with Instructor Changes, Instructor Postponements, and Weather Postponements.

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