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Does High Foreign Students Attendance Equate To A Quality Aviation Program?

Many Foreign Students Attend UND’s Aerospace Program But That Does Not Mean UND Has A Good Aviation Program

By Vivian Nelson; ATP ASMEL, CE-500, Comm SES, CFII, MEI, BGI

Quite often, UND will broadcast the fact that numerous foreign students attend UND to obtain their pilot training. UND, of course, thinks this fact will impress members of the general public. However, any seasoned aviation professional who chose to specialize in flight training realizes there is nothing great about a school that has an abundance of students from abroad.

Why Foreign Students Come To The United States To Train

In many countries, aviation is a highly restricted activity. These restrictions range from pilots not being allowed to fly at night, land at major airports, fly above certain altitudes, or fly unrestricted cross country flights, just to a name just a few operational obstacles. Additionally, certain countries and air carriers look down upon pilot licenses issued by some smaller countries (a practice frowned upon by the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO). Worst of all, pilot training in most other countries is prohibitively expensive. Consequently, foreign aviation students flock to flight schools, big and small throughout the United States.  Some of these schools are so small they have only two aircraft, one instructor and operate off non-towered grass strips.

Foreign Flight Students: A Plus Or Potential Hazard?

Many foreign pilots lack adequate communication skills, which by itself is a safety concern. This fact coupled with the low experience level of many flight instructors, especially those trained at “pilot mills” such as UND leaves the airspace saturated with low-time, improperly trained and ill-supervised students who make flying a hazardous endeavor, especially in high-density traffic situations.