Taiwanese commercial carrier EVA Airlines is flying to new heights by training the next generation of pilots at its very own flight academy in Mather Airport, Sacramento. Anticipating a 20% increase in passenger capacity this year, EVA hopes the academy will help meet the demand for skilled pilots. Opened in 2013, the flight school is the realization of the carrier’s desire to build on its international safety reputation. According to Jet Airline Crash Data Evaluation Center’s (JACDEC) 2017 Report, the airline is ranked as the sixth safest airline globally. EVA Air is also one of the few commercial carriers to be recognized internationally as not having experienced a single hull loss or passenger fatality. With US-based pilot training viewed as the gold standard in aviation, EVA hopes to continue its global reputation through its Sacramento flight academy.
The training facility serves as an aviation campus, with EVA having invested $20 million to create aircraft hangers as well as classrooms, dormitories, and cafeterias for pilot trainees. Pilots who attend the academy undergo rigorous testing and training in Taiwan before being selected to spend five months at the Sacramento facility to learn even more. The importance of having an American based facility, however, lies in exposing Taiwanese pilot candidates to the English language and American culture, which is crucial to their professional development. With EVA Airlines flying eight non-stop routes to American cities such as the new Taipei-Chicago service, the EVA pilot academy prepares its students for potential American interactions.
US-Taiwan relations date back to 1979 when President Jimmy Carter signed the Taiwan Relations Act, solidifying bilateral relations. Currently, Taiwan is America’s 9th largest trading partner and 7th largest source for international students. EVA Air is Taiwan’s second largest airline behind China Airlines. In 2013, EVA Air became a member of the Star Alliance Network — a carrier group with the world’s top airline companies. EVA Air served a total of 10 million passengers in 2015.
Karen Amethyst Mascariñas is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, DC and a graduate student at American University.