In the last several years, the looming pilot shortage – paired with efforts to break down barriers to entry into the aviation industry to promote and support diversity and inclusion – has led to airlines starting revolutionary programs to help aspiring aviators! These programs offer a huge advantage to aviators in many ways. Some of the programs are discussed below and more information will be added to this course as programs develop in the future!

Delta Propel Program 

The Delta Propel Program is an accelerated path to becoming a pilot at Delta Air Lines. The above video gives an overview of the program.

As a Cadet there are two options for building flight time and experience while in the college pipeline

  1. Flying for one of the Delta Connection Carriers: Republic Airways, Endeavor Air and SkyWest Airlines
  2. Flying military aircraft for the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve. 

Regardless which option you choose, or which regional carrier you decide to work for, each member will be paired with a mentor from Delta Air Lines and will attend special events designed to help propel the aviator forward in their career. There are also several programs for promoting STEM events within the community for K-12 students in an effort to recruit future generations of aviators. Additionally, there are options for current Delta employees who are interested in transitioning to the flight deck from various other career fields (maintenance, flight attendants, gate agents, etc). For more information and how to apply, check out their website at propel.delta.com. You can also listen to this podcast from 21.Five, in which the hosts discuss the program in detail with Roy Evans II the lead liaison for the Delta Propel Program.

United Aviate

The United Aviate program is discussed in the video above and you can find more information at the website United Aviate Program. The program has many pathways. As the parent of an aspiring pilot, you can enroll them in United Aviate through the Young Eagles (click here for more information)! Additionally, as an aspiring pilot, you can enroll in the United Aviate Academy to work towards earning your private pilot certificate or learn to fly at an Aviate partner flight school. As a pilot who has already begun the journey, you can get involved by continuing your journey at a United regional partner (Air Wisconsin, Commute Air, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines). Current and former military pilots can also apply through the special link under the United Aviate Program if they meet the minimum requirements for a position of First Officer at United Airlines. The different pathways are discussed on the website, select the one that applies to you!

American Airlines Cadet Academy

In the American Airlines Cadet Academy, you will train with one of several carefully-selected flight schools and be paired with an American Airlines pilot-mentor to walk with you through the program. Discover® Student Loans is the dedicated program lender and can help simplify the financial aspect of your training. Additionally, upon program completion, AA’s three wholly-owned regional carriers (Envoy, PSA and Piedmont) will offer you a guaranteed interview. If hired by one of these regional airlines, you are well on your way to working at American Airlines. American Airlines has contractual flow-through agreements with each of these carriers, which means you will transfer directly to American Airlines once your seniority accrues. If your ultimate goal is to be an American Airlines pilot, the American Airlines Cadet Academy is a great place to start. To learn more, apply and watch an informative video on the process click here.

Republic Airways 

Republic Airways offers several paths to aspiring aviators.

Rjet Cadet Program – Flight students can receive a Conditional Offer of Employment with Republic Airways as early as their instrument rating or commercial certificate! This program requires no commitment or contractual obligation. For information on requirements and how to apply visit Republic’s Cadet website. The Program Benefits are as follows: Conditional Offer of Employment; Priority on class-date selection; Mentorship from a current Republic Airways pilot; Opportunity to attend exclusive events in Indianapolis at Republic’s Headquarters and Training Center; Direct point-of-contact and resource within Talent Acquisition; Qualify to apply for RJet Ambassador position.

Ambassador Program – The Ambassador Program for Republic Airways allows college students with a private pilot certificate and instrument rating to become an ambassador and employee of Republic Airways while attending college. During this commitment, the student will:

  • Serve as an Ambassador for Republic Airways, providing resources and information to peers interested in working for this company. Shares updates related to Republic Airways as relevant.
  • Attend campus events with the Campus Recruitment Team; Rjet Days, Cadet Onsite Events and Career Fairs to promote Republic Airways.
  • Post updated marketing-materials on campus, at the flight line and to social media while coordinating with the campus career-services office.
  • Engage potential Associates by promoting brand awareness with Republic Airways.
  • Uphold expectations and standards provided by Republic Airways. Abides by all state and federal laws and regulations.
  • Maintain good academic and behavioral standing with their campus/college/university.
  • Maintain professional and respectful reputation on campus and in the local community.
  • Pass an extensive interview, background check and drug test.

In return, the student receives travel benefits from Republic Airways, a $200/month stipend, company seniority (different from pilot seniority) and Republic Airways clothing items and gear. If you are interested in this program, find one of Republic Airways’ recruiters or ambassadors on LinkedIn or other forms of social media and ask them about their experience and how to get involved!

LIFT Academy-  The Leadership In Flight Training (LIFT) Academy was born out of a desire to transform the standard pilot-training model into one that is more widely attainable and attractive. By offering tuition that is more affordable than other pilot training programs, as well as a direct classroom-to-cockpit opportunity, LIFT has thrown the hangar doors wide open to a world of possibilities for men and women who thought becoming a pilot was simply not within reach. The program is an accelerated pathway to wings and a guaranteed job with Republic Airways. Learn more at Fly With Lift

Regional Flow Through Programs

There are several regional airlines with flow-through programs to major airlines. A flow-through means that, once you are hired at these regionals, you begin building experience towards a guaranteed transition to a major airline such as Delta Air Lines or American Airlines. This transition comes after certain requirements such as time, experience, etc., are met. PSA, Piedmont and Envoy offer flow-through programs to American Airlines, whereas Endeavor offers a flow-through to Delta.

Tuition Reimbursement

Several regional airlines also offer tuition-reimbursement programs to qualified applicants, as well as sign-on bonuses. These programs change often, but Air Transport Professionals (ATP) does a good job of keeping up with the changes and displaying the information here. They also have detailed airline-specific information here.

Although this is a great compilation of current programs – and we will make every effort to keep this eCourse up to date – these programs continuously change! So please be sure to do your research and network with qualified, current recruiters from each airline program to stay updated on the best paths available to you on your journey!

Whatever path you decide to take, whether it is enlisting in the military and utilizing government programs to fund college and flight training, or commissioning into the Air Force Reserve or Guard after college, or attending one of these programs during/after college, or a combination of one or more of these options, do your research and make sure you have all of the information available to make the best-informed decision for YOU and your career goals!