Utah State University has linked up with a local business to offer pilot training to students at costs significantly below the national average.

An academic department, working with its advisory board, which includes several airline pilots, has developed a four-year program that will provide training for those who want careers as commercial pilots.All ground and flight training in the USU program is contracted with Logan Air Service, operating at the Cache County Airport.

The demand is high for airline pilots at this time, experts agree.

Pilots trained in World War II and the Korean conflict are phasing out of the airlines, while commuter airlines are in a perennial process of recruiting to replace pilots who move up to the higher-paying jobs.

For USU students with no previous knowledge of any aspect of flying who go through the program and gain ratings that allow them to teach private pilots, instrument, single-engine and multiengine flying, the program represents a savings of $6,000 for the actual flying costs, according to John Koehler, chief flight instructor at Logan Air Service.

"We hold down costs two ways," said Koehler. "Our lease-back aircraft payout is less per hour, but owners see high use, so they are happy. And, since we are in a low-income economy area, our instruction rates are lower. We currently charge $16 per hour for private pilot instruction, $18 per hour for instrument flight instruction and $20 per hour for multiengine instruction."

In its first two quarters, the program has produced a boost in local flying and has attracted more students to the department.

Koehler said at the end of winter quarter 60 USU students were committed to the program.

*****> (CHART)> Cost comparisons for flight training

National average USU student cost

Private pilot $2,900-$3,000 $2,000

Instrument rating $2,500 $2,000

Commercial/ Instrument $11,500 $8,200

Flight instructor $2,500 $1,700

Instrument CFI $2,500 $1,400

Multiengine CFI $4,200 $2,800

Koehler made these comparisons using last year's national flight cost averages.