Spirit Airlines has announced a partnership with Liberty University, marking the tenth educational institution the airline is collaborating with to address the ongoing shortage of pilots in the aviation industry.
Under this program, students pursuing aviation degrees at Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics in Lynchburg, Virginia, will have the opportunity to apply for Spirit Airlines’ pilot training pipeline after completing their sophomore year. To be eligible, prospective trainees will need a recommendation from a faculty member.
Students working toward aviation degrees can receive conditional job offers as they near the completion of their studies while accumulating flight hours. Following this, they will participate in airline pilot training programs and join as first officers.
Ryan Rodosta, Senior Director of Flight Operations and System Chief Pilot at Spirit Airlines, expressed the company’s dedication to developing the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway Program and assembling a strong group of partners to address the pilot shortage in the industry.
Other airlines have also sought solutions to bolster their supply of new pilots. JetBlue, for instance, introduced its Gateway Rotor Transition Program, which aims to help U.S. military-trained helicopter pilots transition to becoming airline pilots. United Airlines purchased a flight academy in February 2020 with the goal of hiring over 10,000 new pilots within the decade.
Pipeline programs are attractive to airlines as they help train new pilots to meet the 1,500-hour training requirement mandated by U.S. law for commercial airline pilots. Exceptions are made for specific groups, such as U.S. military-trained pilots and individuals who complete two- and four-year programs that include flight training.