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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Real-World Research for Sun Country Airlines

Aviation students with best project to get flight time in Boeing 737 Flight Simulator.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 11-6-2013

Mankato, Minn. – Minnesota State University, Mankato students taking Aviation Safety (AVIA 437) this semester are conducting real-world research for Sun Country Airlines on a new Federal Aviation Administration-mandated Safety Management System.

Six small groups of students will give final research project presentations to Sun Country Airlines at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, and the group with the best presentation will be awarded flight time at a later date in Sun Country Airlines’ full-motion Boeing 737 Flight Simulator, located at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The job of the Minnesota State Mankato students in their research project is to review safety data from Sun Country’s various operations departments (e.g. flight operations, ground operations, etc.), and to find ways to compile that data for clear, solutions-oriented presentations to senior management.

Safety managers from Sun Country Airlines will listen to each presentation in the classroom on Nov. 11 and will notify the winning group later in the week.

The Aviation Safety course is taught by Jeff Peterson, assistant professor of aviation at Minnesota State Mankato.

Peterson said the project originated after he suggested that a student who interned last year for Sun Country Airlines’ Safety Department contact her manager about giving a guest lecture to the class on the Safety Management System.

“Sun Country Airlines came to our class to introduce their fledgling SMS program, and to give our students a chance to take part from the beginning in its implementation,” said Peterson. “The SMS program is a new, congressionally mandated requirement for all airlines in an attempt to take a more proactive approach to aviation safety.”

The Safety Management System, according to an FAA advisory circular, “is an organization-wide comprehensive and preventative approach to managing safety. An SMS includes a Safety Policy, formal methods for identifying hazards and mitigating risk, and promotion of a positive safety culture.”

For more information on Minnesota State Mankato’s Aviation Safety course, contact Jeff Peterson, assistant professor of aviation, by phone at 507-389-1056 or by email at

Students in Minnesota State Mankato’s Aviation Program graduate with a bachelor’s degree in aviation, with either a professional pilot emphasis or aviation management emphasis. The majority of the students in the current Aviation Safety course have career goals of becoming airline pilots or flying professionally elsewhere in the industry, according to Peterson.

The Department of Aviation,, is a part of Minnesota State Mankato’s College of Education.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,409 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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