The recently renamed Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field is hosting a big event this afternoon. Administrators from Western Michigan University and top United Airlines executives will be on hand at WMU’s College of Aviation at the airport. They’ll be launching a big partnership which was announced about two weeks ago. United needs to hire as many as ten thousand new pilots in the next decade. It’s looking to Western’s program to help provide many of the new hires.

The website says the pilot shortage issue is no small matter. It's estimating that over the next 20 years, the low estimate is that around 800 thousand new pilots will be needed worldwide. The need is based on current pilots retiring, and the passenger and air cargo industry that’s bursting at the seams to keep up with demand.WMU program leaders say the partnership with United Airlines is just the latest indication of the quality of its aviation training for pilots and ground crew alike. They’ll kick off the ceremony at mid-afternoon.

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