CWU News

CWU Board of Trustees Reiterates Support for Aviation Program

Central Washington University’s Board of Trustees last week unanimously approved a resolution in support of maintaining a robust aviation education program.

In addition, the board directed the staff to study the options of acquiring or signing a long-term lease for facilities at Bowers Field Airport or moving the program to McAllister Field in Yakima.

“The university has made a tremendous investment in the flight training program, and as the most significant user of Bowers Field it is understandable that the Trustees would want to evaluate all options to protect that investment,” said Joel Klucking, CWU’s vice president of business & financial affairs. “While the university’s first choice is to remain at Bowers, the facility has been allowed to fall into disrepair.

“Staff has been instructed to analyze the available options by April 15, 2018, so the board can decide whether the program remains at Bowers Field or we need to consider relocating it to a more suitable location,” Klucking added.

CWU President James L. Gaudino said the university remains committed to offering a world-class aviation training program and noted it had recently purchased new flight training simulators and several new aircraft for student pilots, which will be delivered in December. Additionally, Central recently purchased and leased several of the buildings at Bowers Field.

“Central has been producing high quality aviation professionals since the 1940s, so we’ve been doing this for a long time,” Gaudino said. “In fact, our program has never been stronger. We’ve experienced significant growth in the aviation program enrollment during the past few years.”

Part of the reason for the boost in enrollment is the increasing demand for pilots. Aviation industry forecasts indicate a looming shortage in skilled aviation professionals in coming years. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, which monitors international aviation policies, airlines around the world will need 480,000 new airplane technicians and 350,000 more pilots over the next two decades.

Klucking said improving Bowers Field could also allow Ellensburg to be in the mix for future regional air service, noting that Everett and Wenatchee airports recently began offering such service.

In its resolution, the trustees said that in order to support its commitments to current students and to its aviation industry partners, the university “must make critical choices about future aviation operations.”

The board directed staff to develop two plans:

• A proposal to guarantee a sustainable, high-quality aviation education services at Bowers Field Airport, which may include the options of purchase or long-term lease of the facility.

• A business plan to move the aviation program from Bowers Field Airport to McAllister Field in Yakima.

Media contact: Richard Moreno, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-2714,