The Center for Professional Development at Stanford University has signed an agreement with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to offer a unique distance learning program combining aviation training and management fundamentals that will help professionals manage the complexities of the growing air transport industry.

The need to balance safety, continuous advances in technology and the demands of multiplying passenger and cargo volume lead to a level of complexity in the industry that only global professionals with the best of targeted training can manage effectively and the Stanford-IATA program is aimed to fill the anticipated demand for such talent in times to come.

The talent gap in the industry could be particularly severe in view of the expected wave of retirements within the U.S. aerospace and defense industry that has been looming for years, according to a 2010 Workforce Study by Aviation Week magazine. The study found that in the larger companies surveyed (those with more than 100,000 employees), more than 30% of the workforce would be eligible to retire in 2012 and the percentage reaches nearly 40% by 2014. Another report - Airbus' Global Market Forecast for 2010-2029 - estimates that almost 26,000 new passenger jetliners and freighters will be needed to meet the rising demand for flight services. Naturally, the airline and airport industries too would need an adequate talent pipeline to maintain efficiency and excellence in the face of the explosion in demand for their services.

 Commenting at the signing ceremony of the agreement between Stanford and IATA, vice-president of human capital at IATA Guido Gianasso said, This unique global and industry-wide certification program is aimed at developing a new generation of global aviation executives, able to operate across boundaries and successfully lead our industry in the challenging years to come.

Certification under the program will require participants to complete six courses within a year. These blend instruction on the technical components of the air transport system and its function, role and scope - to be developed and taught by IATA - and management training to impart knowledge of the business elements at play within the industry, which will be taught by the Stanford Center. The latter includes courses on strategic execution, leadership and project management. All courses consist of eLearning modules and self-study content in downloadable format. They would be accessible on-demand 24X7, enabling students to study at their own time and pace and even repeat lectures during the year as needed.

Successful completion will earn participants the new Stanford - IATA Aviation Management Certificate and immediate registration with IATA as a Certified Aviation Management Professional (AvMP).