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Delta Air Lines Launches Propel Pilot Career Path Program

Delta 777

Delta is launching a program to attract new pilots called the Propel Pilot Career Path Program. The new program is designed to compliment the traditional existing paths which pilots use to advance into major airline employment. Propel pilot career path has three focus areas – college, company, and community.

“Delta conducted several years of research to create a pilot outreach and pathway program that will inspire and attract the next generations of high-quality talent,” said Steve Dickson, Senior Vice President – Flight Operations. Mr. Dickson continued that the company conducted research with students, parents, faculty, administrators and Delta employees to identify common barriers for potential pilot candidates.

Delta Air Lines expects to hire more than 8,000 pilots over the next 10 years to replace existing pilots when they reach mandatory retirement age, and to meet company growth plans. The propel program will supplement the companies existing recruiting structure which includes hiring pilots currently flying in the military, corporate, or airline sectors.

Regardless of the hiring path any new pilots hired by Delta will need to meet the qualification requirements and testing aspects in the current pilot hiring model before beginning training with Delta.

The Propel Pilot Career Path Program is not currently offering financial help or incentives though Delta is exploring financing options that might be available to students or employees.

Propel College Path

Delta is initially partnering with eight universities that have accredited aviation programs to interview collegiate aviation students. To qualify for an interview students must:

  • Be enrolled in an R-ATP eligible major
  • Hold at least a private pilot certificate
  • Have completed at least one Part-141 flight course at the partner school
  • Be a junior, senior, or flight instructor that has graduated in the preceding 6 months

Students accepted into the Propel pilot program through the college path will be given a Qualified Job Offer (QJO) which will contain a detailed defined path with an accelerated timeline to becoming a Delta pilot. The college path is designed to advance the student through their chosen career route to Delta in 42 months or less. Students may choose from three career routes:

Selected applicants will be enrolled in advanced engagement activities with Delta intended to strengthen knowledge of the airline industry and develop leadership skills. Advanced programs include on-campus events and scheduled events at the Airline’s facilities. Applicants will also receive mentoring from an active Delta pilot.

Propel Pilot Program College Partners

Propel Company Path

The Propel program company path provides existing Delta employees a career transition opportunity and support to pursue a pilot career. Employees in good standing may apply to the program. Additional requirements include:

  • Completion 36 total months as a full time employee
  • Graduate of a four-year degree program from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a Private Pilot Certificate not to exceed a Commercial Pilot Certificate
  • Have at least 100 hours of flight time in fixed wing aircraft
  • Current biennial flight review

Applicants chosen for the company path will be given a Qualified Job Offer (QJO). The QJO includes a path and timeline back to Delta as a new hire pilot, a Leave of Absence program and an advanced engagement commitment, including mentoring from an active Delta pilot. Applicants participating in the program will:

  • Earn their certificates and ratings at an approved partner flight school
  • Build flight time as a Certificated Flight Instructor at the school they attended for training
  • Work for a Delta Connection carrier for up to 42 months

Existing Delta Employees who have progressed beyond their Commercial Certificate are considered overqualified for the Propel program. These candidates may be qualified for another segment of the Propel program called “Propel Advance.” Details of Propel Advance have not been released yet and Delta says the program will open in late 2018.

Propel Pilot Employee Program Approved Flight Schools

Propel Community Outreach

Delta is reaching out to existing aviation organizations and establishing new ones to support aspiring pilots, including speaking with kindergarten through high school students to spark an interest in aviation. Partner organizations include:

  • Aviation Career Enrichment
  • Civil Air Patrol
  • Conyers Middle School – Center for Technology and Engineering
  • National Gay Pilots Association
  • National Flight Academy
  • National Intercollegiate Flying Association
  • Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals
  • West Michigan Aviation Academy
  • Women in Aviation International

Learn More About Delta Air Lines Pilot Jobs >>

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 8,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, flying for a regional airline, a national low cost airline, a legacy airline, and also working as a manager in charge of Part 135 and Part 121 training programs.

Greg Thomson