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Mount Royal University aviation training program set to soar with new WestJet partnership

MRU aviation training program instructors and students will have access to training equipment, facilities, and mentorship through the newly minted deal

Scott Wilson, Elizabeth Evans, Matthew Colistro and Taylor Jackson celebrated a new partnership on Monday that will see the Mount Royal University aviation training program benefit from mentorship and training from WestJet.

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Scott Wilson, Elizabeth Evans, Matthew Colistro and Taylor Jackson celebrated a new partnership on Monday that will see the Mount Royal University aviation training program benefit from mentorship and training from WestJet.

A one-of-a-kind agreement between WestJet and Mount Royal University’s aviation training program had a smooth take-off on Monday.  

A letter of agreement was signed at the WestJet campus on Monday morning, creating a partnership program that will see WestJet and Mount Royal work together to advance aviation training in Calgary. 

Scott Wilson, vice-president of flight operations for WestJet said the partnership is important to both MRU and WestJet, but also to the future of aviation. 

“It’s a nice tie in because going forward we’ve got a need for pilots and Mount Royal does a great job of training and producing pilots, so it’s a natural tie in the industry, both in location and we’ve got a need for what their output is,” he said. 

Scott Wilson, VP flight operations for WestJet.

Lucie Edwardson / metro

Scott Wilson, VP flight operations for WestJet.

Wilson said the program focuses on mentorship of MRU aviation instructors from the WestJet flight training and standards team, and will also provide training and access to facilities—including full-flight simulators and training classrooms— for both MRU aviation instructors and students. 

Elizabeth Evans, dean of the faculty of business and communication studies at MRU said the partnership is an opportunity to solidify an existing relationship that will benefit MRU students and in the future, WestJet. 

“The exposure and the opportunity it’s going to give our students to be involved with WestJet is amazing,” she said. “Students come very committed to wanting careers in aviation, we have a very focused cohort of students and this opens a door that will give them new routes and career paths.” 

Elizabeth Evans, PhD, dean of the faculty of business and communication studies at MRU.

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Elizabeth Evans, PhD, dean of the faculty of business and communication studies at MRU.

Evans said they’ve already had the most applicants ever to the program for the upcoming school year, and she suspects this partnership will make the MRU program even more desirable. 

Taylor Jackson, who's heading into her second and final year in the MRU aviation program, said with the program geared towards producing professional pilots, the partnership is a big move towards helping students reach their chosen career path.  

“The more professional training we get the better pilots we’re going to be and that’s the kind of pilots the world wants to see,” she said. “It’s going to make us that much better.” 

Taylor Jackson, a second-year MRU aviation training program student, will benefit from the new partnership with WestJet in the upcoming school year.

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Taylor Jackson, a second-year MRU aviation training program student, will benefit from the new partnership with WestJet in the upcoming school year.

Jackson said having access to WestJet’s flight simulators is something she’s excited about. 

“The simulator at Mount Royal has done a lot for us, but we have one simulator and it’s the same with cars or art—the more experience you get the better,” she said. “Getting into that bigger simulator will expand our brains and make us better to responding to different scenarios.” 

Matthew Colistro, a WestJet captain and graduate of the Mount Royal aviation program (when it was formally a college), said this partnership will mean greater success to MRU graduates. 

WestJet captain Matthew Colistro graduated from the Mount Royal College aviation program and looks forward to helping guide current MRU students to success.

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

WestJet captain Matthew Colistro graduated from the Mount Royal College aviation program and looks forward to helping guide current MRU students to success.

He said one of the biggest problems back when he was in the program was a sense of no direction.

“We had no idea where to go or how to get to the airlines. Now, the mentorship between WestJet and MRU allows the student a fast-track way to get the career they want,” he said. 

Colistro is also a flight instructor for WestJet and said he’s looking forward to working directly with the students. 

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