We’re not sure how we feel about that.
JetBlue has asked for permission to launch its own in-house pilot-training program. Like most major airlines in the U.S., JetBlue usually turns to experienced aviation-school graduates to fill its rosters, but for this initiative the company would recruit a small group of complete novices to train and, eventually, hire.
Although this might sound alarming at first look—flight newbies in the cockpit???—the pilots trained through JetBlue’s program would have to complete 1,500 hours of flying experience before receiving their commercial license, just like the pilots for all other American carriers. (The number of hours required was raised from 250 to 1,500 in 2013, a change criticized by some members of the airline industry who believe it could contribute to a growing pilot shortage.) JetBlue’s proposed plan would be the only one of its kind in the U.S., but is not unlike the internal instructional programs of many foreign airlines, such as Lufthansa, which operates a pilot training center in Arizona.
As Bloomberg News reports, JetBlue claims this initiative would enable the airline to work with its pilots from the very beginning of their flight education and train them in exactly the types of simulation scenarios deemed most necessary (bad weather and mechanical failures, apparently, are a much larger concern than harrowing runways like these), and ensuring that their would-be aviators gain early experience working on large aircrafts.
If JetBlue’s request is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, a small class of recruits could start their training in 2016.
Anya Hoffman is a contributing digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter at @anya_hoffman.