Middle Georgia State University is one of eight schools in the nation chosen to be a pipeline for new Delta Air Lines pilots.
The Atlanta-based airline is looking to hire 8,000 pilots over the next decade as pilots begin to reach the mandatory retirement age of 65, according to a news release.
The Delta Air Lines Propel Pilot Career Path Program will provide selected students with a “qualified job offer,” which puts them on a specific, accelerated path to becoming Delta pilots. Students also will receive mentoring from Delta.
“Obviously Delta is one of the premier institutions in aviation,” said Chad Fischer, assistant chief flight instructor at Middle Georgia State. “We’re just glad that they’ve chosen to have this agreement with us.”
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The number of students selected to participate in the program will be up to Delta. But Middle Georgia State has about 100 students that are qualified to apply for the program, said Adam Holloway, department chair and chief flight instructor at the university.
One of Delta’s goals of the program is to help rectify a pilot shortage, Fischer said.
Over 630,000 new commercial airline pilots will be needed worldwide between 2017 and 2036, according to a 2017 study by Boeing aircraft manufacturing company. North America alone will require 117,000 pilots.
“The Propel program will supplement the airline’s current recruiting structure, which includes recruiting and hiring pilots currently flying in the airline, military and corporate sectors,” Catherine Simmons, Delta corporate communications leader, wrote in an email.
Students must be involved in the Restricted Airline Transport Pilot Program at one of the eight selected schools to apply, according to the Delta Propel program’s website. They also have to be at least a private pilot in their junior or senior year, or flight instructors who graduated within the previous six months. Eligibility also requires applicants to have completed at least one Part-141 flight course.
Applications open for students Aug. 1.
Ty Templeton, a junior and recent transfer student, said he looks forward to applying.
“This is what I could do for the rest of my life,” he said about being a pilot. “Delta would be a perfect place for me to work hopefully in the future.”
Pilots can make about $60,000 their first year, Holloway said. The next year they can make as much as $100,000.
The other schools selected for the Propel program are Auburn University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and Prescott, Middle Tennessee State University, Minnesota State University at Mankato, University of North Dakota and Western Michigan University.
“We feel like we provide just as good a quality flight training, if not better, than the schools that are a part of this program as well,” Holloway said.