Southern Illinois University (SIU), located in Murphysboro, Illinois, is discussing setting up its own pilot training facility at the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield. The new location would be more than three hours from its Murphysboro location.

Initially, SIU Aviation began as a service unit of the university, offering flight classes with four airplanes and spare parts. It has now transformed to offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in aviation to more than 600 students. The program’s reach extends nationally, offering online and distance education, and also holds international agreements with China to train aviation technology students, as well as prepare pilots, mechanics and aviation technicians with Saudia Airlines. SIU Aviation has three different undergraduate majors including Aviation Flight, Aviation Management and Aviation Technologies as well as a graduate degree program in Aviation Management.

The expansion into the Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport would help address the national shortage of pilots, according to the Illinois Times.

"We have a phenomenal facility with air traffic control, and Stellar Aviation has a tremendous facility that (the school) could be housed in," Mike Murphy, president and CEO of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, told the Illinois Times.

He anticipates a formal announcement from the school in the next few months.

SIU Aviation currently trains students at the Transportation Education Center, housed in the Southern Illinois Airport. It encompasses instructional facilities including a 60,000 square-foot hangar and classroom building, a 12,000 square-foot Helicopter Laboratory, procedure trainers and learning laboratories. SIU’s students train on a variety of flight training devices and have access to a fleet of airplanes.