Jet Blue Now Taking Ab Initio Applications

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Jet Blue has launched an ab initio training program that it hopes will help to diversify its hiring pool and also give the company control over a pilot's training from start to finish. The four-year program, which has been in the works since last year, is now accepting online applicants, at a cost of $125,000. "We are currently exploring multiple options for financial assistance," the company said, "to help alleviate monetary barriers." The ideal applicant, the company says, would already have a college degree, but no previous flight experience is required. Applicants will undergo a range of tests and assessments, and 24 will be offered a slot in the program. They will be trained in a series of small groups, with the first group expected to begin training late this summer. Graduates are guaranteed a job with JetBlue.

JetBlue said it will partner with CAE to help deliver the curriculum. Students will begin with four weeks of training with JetBlue in Orlando, then continue at CAE's flight academy in Phoenix for 30 weeks, to complete their private pilot training. They will return to JetBlue to train in the Embraer 190 and earn their ATP. After another 12 weeks in Phoenix, trainees will earn their CFI, then work at CAE as salaried instructors until they log 1,500 hours. Once all requirements are met, the trainee will become a new hire at JetBlue, and join a six-week orientation class to become an E190 first officer. "We believe this is going to be an important part of how airlines are going to create pilots in the future," CAE President Nick Leontidis told The Associated Press. The pilots union for JetBlue does not support the plan, saying JetBlue should instead hire pilots working at regional airlines, who currently get passed over. The program is the first of its kind for a U.S. airline. Similar programs overseas generally are free for the applicants.

The application portal is now online. Applicants can submit an application, then are given information about completing application essays. If they are then invited to complete the assessment, a $200 fee is required. Applicants must then obtain a first-class FAA medical certificate to qualify for an on-site interview.