CMU's flight program helping to combat mental health in pilots

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- The world is facing a pilot shortage. It is estimated more than 700,000 pilots will be needed in the next 20 years, but current pilot numbers are trending down.

Colorado Mesa University recently started a new program to get more pilots up in the air. The program gets students ready to fly with all the technical aspects, but it is also focusing on mental health.

“The plane may be fit to fly, meaning it has all its inspections, but the pilot may not be,” said Erling Brabaek, pilot and instructor for the program.

Depression rates are fairly high for pilots. A recent study found 12 percent of pilots surveyed had symptoms of depression and four percent has suicidal thoughts.

"I think this would be a challenging industry to get into if you have a wife and kids, and you're away from home five, six, days a week,” said Tyree McElroy, a student.

The curriculum teaches how to work as a team with people, and about emotional issues pilots may face, in addition to the regular technical parts. CMU is partnering with Sky West to expand the program.

Students are guaranteed an interview when they graduate from the two-year program.

For more information on the program, follow the link on the side of the article.

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