As the aviation industry reaches a pilot deficit, airlines are considering unorthodox recruitment methods to fill their pilot quotas.
JetBlue announced that it will expand its search for more pilots this month, accepting applications from people who have never even flown a plane.
Last year, JetBlue put out a call for its brand-new Pilot Gateway Select Program. The four-year training program turns people with little to no flying experience into pilots for a commercial aircraft. This year, the airline will do the same for 24 new candidates.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 23 years old by the time of program completion, and be legally eligible to work in the United States.
Those who are accepted into the rigorous program will undergo four years of training, potentially starting in early 2018. The curriculum starts with classroom instruction before moving onto flight simulators and then 1,500 hours of flying experience before starting with JetBlue.
The four-year training program will cost future pilots $125,000 to complete. Commercial pilots have an average starting salary of about $52,000 — although they have the potential to earn as much as $125,000.
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Last year’s trainees included a former baggage handler, grocery-store clerk and accountant.
The airline will accept applications for the program until September 30. Anybody who wants to apply should do so quickly; Last year JetBlue received 1,500 applications for 24 spots within the first week.
For those in Europe and who have some flying experience, Norwegian Airlines is reportedly also looking for pilots at a roadshow in Dublin on Wednesday.