Delta Air Lines plans to open a flight training academy in June, the U.S. carrier said Tuesday. Called the Delta Propel Flight Academy, the school will operate in partnership with Vero Beach, Florida-based Skyborne Airline Academy. Delta said it will offer $20,000 in training support to eligible students and cover the cost of interest on student loans from certain lenders.
Delta will locate the training center in a refurbished 12,000-sq-ft facility at Skyborne’s Vero Beach campus. The airline calls the academy one of four pathways created for aspiring pilots through the Propel Pilot Career Path Program. Since the program's inception in 2018, almost 100 pilots have completed Propel’s existing company, college, and community pathways and now fly for Delta. Another 700 participants have enrolled in the program.
Student pilots will complete private, instrument, commercial and certified flight instructor training, delivered in an "airline-focused way," according to Delta. Once students have completed their first certificate or rating at the Propel Flight Academy, they can apply to the Propel Pilot Career Path Program. Those selected must meet certain performance milestones throughout training. Upon successful completion of their certified flight instructor rating, Skyborne Academy will offer students employment as flight instructors. In that role, they will receive full sponsorship from Skyborne for certified flight instructor instrument and multi-engine instructor ratings, along with what Delta characterizes as a generous salary and private health benefits until they reach 1,500 flight hours. Upon completion of the pathway, employment will begin at one of Delta’s regional affiliates.
Although the Air Line Pilots Association disputes the notion of a pilot shortage, airline executives generally agree that indeed a serious shortfall of qualified flight deck candidates exists, prompting United Airlines, for example, to open its own flight academy in December 2021. Operating from a 340,000-sq-ft facility at Phoenix Goodyear Airport, the United Aviate academy began training with 25 leased aircraft but took delivery in June last year of the first of 25 Cirrus SR20s it bought. United acquired the academy from Westwind School of Aeronautics in 2020 as it laid plans to hire 10,000 pilots over the next 10 years.