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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Student Project for Airline

Unique collaboration is with Sun Country Airlines.

Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 11-18-2013

MANKATO — Minnesota State University Aviation students have been working on real-world research projects for Sun Country Airlines as part of a unique collaboration.

Six teams of five students have been working on individual projects related to the new Federal Aviation Administration-mandated Safety Management System. The students made pitches to Sun Country safety officials last week.

And the winning student team, to be announced today, will receive flight time in a Boeing 737 flight simulator.

“They all came up with different solutions,” said Jeff Peterson, assistant professor of aviation.

The students in Peterson’s Aviation Safety course were charged with reviewing safety data from Sun Country’s various operations departments (including flight and ground operations) and finding ways to compile that data for “clear, solutionsoriented presentations to senior management.”

The purpose is to aid Sun Country in building its own Safety Management System — providing “fresh minds” to help organize an overwhelming amount of data.

“They need to know how to present the data in a way that might show trends,” Peterson said.

The project came about because of a student who interned last year for Sun Country Airlines’ Safety Department. Peterson asked her to contact her manager about giving a guest lecture to the class on the Safety Management System.

Sun Country Airlines came to the class to introduce the fledgling SMS program and gave students a chance to take part from the beginning of its implementation. The purpose of the program, mandated by Congress, is to take a more proactive approach to aviation safety.

“When Sun Country first came out to give the lecture and present the opportunity for the research project, you could kind of tell on the faces of the students they were a little overwhelmed by the data,” Peterson said.

An SMS includes a Safety Policy, formal methods for identifying hazards and mitigating risk, and promotion of a positive safety culture.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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