Many people around the country know Dick DeVos as an entrepreneur and CEO, but many do not know that he also has a strong passion for aeronautics and aviation. Beyond his personal collection of airplanes flown recreationally, Dick Devos has countless other achievements and passions in aviation. It was for these reasons that he was selected as a new member of the FAA’s civilian board.
In a news release, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said “These new members bring extensive experience and over a century of combined expertise in the operation, business, and policy of aviation that will be invaluable to improving the FAA,”
Devos has personally played a major role in solving administrative issues at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. He led a group of business leaders and consultants to negotiate with Southwest Airlines to offer flight routes out of the Grand Rapids Airport. Because of this negotiation, customers can enjoy lower fares while the airlines can benefit from the increase passenger count at the airport.
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is home to another major project by DeVos. With the support of his wife Betsy, he established the West Michigan Aviation Academy, originally stationed in a warehouse near the airport. Combining his long-term passion for school choice with his interest in aviation led to him establishing the nation’s first public aviation academy. Over the course of a normal high school career, graduates can earn their pilot’s license in addition to a standard high school diploma.
The West Michigan Aviation Academy is special, however. Unlike other flight schools in the country, this school is a public, operating on public funding. This means that any student who qualifies academically can become a student. There is no tuition charge and complete transparency in admissions.
The school now serves over 500 students, only limited by their public charter. Many students, unfortunately, miss out due to this hard cap, which Dick Devos is looking to increase.
It is for this reason that he was selected to serve on the FAA’s top board as an advisor. For the next three years, he will meet quarterly with other professionals in the field. All members are expected to keep and maintain their existing private sector positions, so there should be no issue with either Amway or the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Time will tell just what the civilian panel will accomplish and what they will recommend to the FAA. If Dick’s experience is any indication, we can expect to see a greater emphasis on education and collaboration between public airports and the airlines.
To learn more, visit http://dickdevos.com.