Pilots wanted: Recruiting event seeks trained and aspiring aviators

Job fair comes amid airline demand for captains
Source: Wheels Up

Credit: Source: Wheels Up

Combined ShapeCaption
Source: Wheels Up

Credit: Source: Wheels Up

Ever thought about becoming a pilot?

A job fair and seminar to be held in Atlanta this Saturday will target aviators looking to advance their careers, as well as those who aspire to become pilots.

Future & Active Pilot Advisors (FAPA), which holds pilot recruitment events around the country, will be at the Hilton Atlanta Downtown on Saturday for its job fair from 8 a.m.-noon and future pilot seminar starting at 2 p.m.

It’s one of a number of efforts to recruit crew members across the industry, as airlines staff up to handle surging demand for air travel.

The biggest staffing crunches are at smaller regional contract carriers that fly Delta Connection flights and other regional jet operations. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and other airlines last year hired a record number of pilots, pulling many from their regional carrier partners. This forced the smaller carriers to constantly backfill spots and search for experienced pilots to fill captain openings.

Companies like Wheels Up, which is a private aviation firm and Delta partner, are also trying to hire pilots.

Both Wheels Up and Delta regional partner Endeavor Air are among the companies set to recruit at the FAPA job fair, and have programs to establish a career path for their pilots to Delta.

FAPA President Louis Smith, a retired Northwest Airlines captain, said: “Right now the major airlines don’t have a shortage of applicants,” and are not recruiting at the FAPA job fair.

“They’re all poaching in the regional sector,” he said. “It basically decimates the regional carriers below them.”

Delta continues to recruit crewmembers, including targeting those interested in becoming flight attendants with information sessions in Nashville, Minneapolis and Orlando this month.



Airlines are preparing for busy spring and summer travel seasons this year, though pilot hiring has slowed since last year’s rush to ramp up.

“We’ve hired several thousand pilots over the last couple of years and now it’s just getting them through training and into the cockpit,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian during an investor presentation this week.

“Pilots are certainly still a constraint for the industry generally,” Bastian acknowledged. “I don’t think it’s that people are are unwilling to enter the profession. I think it’s just the nature of the beast, the challenges of accumulating the hours, getting the experience. It’s an expensive profession to get into.”

It can take two years and cost nearly $100,000 for training to become an airline pilot.

But, the shortage of pilots coupled with heavy travel demand has helped Delta’s aviators win a new contract with hefty raises over the next four years. Regional carriers have also boosted pay to compete.

The challenges facing the aviation workforce have drawn the attention of Congress, and are the focus of a U.S. Senate commerce committee hearing Thursday.

The FAPA future pilot seminar is among a number of efforts to foster interest among young people and others to become pilots to meet demand for years to come.

The Saturday afternoon program will include information on how to launch a pilot career, followed by presentations by flight training programs including Republic Airways’ LIFT Academy, L3Harris Airline Academy, 2FLY Airborne and Spartan College of Aeronautics.

Delta has its own pilot workforce development initiative called Propel, and has partnerships with college aviation programs, including recently-added historically Black institutions Hampton University and Elizabeth City State University,

Others in the Atlanta area have started their own efforts to encourage young people to become pilots. Omar Brock, a commercial pilot, formed a nonprofit in Kennesaw called the Brock Foundation to foster career paths in aviation among minority students with the help of mentors.

Smith said to become a good pilot, “You have to be able to think clearly, quick enough to respond to what’s going on in the cockpit. ... You need to be able to handle stress and think at the same time.”

Since airline pilots are federally required to retire at the age of 65, as Baby Boomers retire, airlines must regularly hire pilots to remain fully staffed — with the exception of periodic economic downturns that force cutbacks.

Some pilots “are surprised about what the job is all about in terms of time away from home, the stresses of the job,” Smith said. “People who have a sense of humor tend to enjoy the industry more, because they can handle the ups and downs of the cycles.”

FAPA Pilot Job Fair

When: Saturday, March 18, 2023, 8 a.m.-noon

Where: Hilton Atlanta Downtown, 255 Courtland St. NE in Atlanta

Those interested in attending should go to fapa.aero/PilotJobFairs/ to pre-register. Bring a paper résumé for admission to the job fair.

FAPA Future Pilot Seminar

When: Saturday, March 18, 2023, 2 p.m.

Where: Hilton Atlanta Downtown, 255 Courtland St. NE in Atlanta

For students of all ages, their parents and/or mentors, and career changers

Those interested in attending should go to fapa.aero/future to pre-register.

It’s free to attend the pilot job fair and future pilot seminar. Self-parking at the hotel costs $35.

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