FedEx Express Expands Pilot Outreach


FedEx Express is joining a recent trend in the industry to develop a pipeline of pilots to fill seats in its larger jets, by creating clear pathways for new hires to get the training and opportunities they need for a productive career. The “Purple Runway” program is designed “to assist two of our feeder operators with the recruitment and retention of pilots who wish to develop their skills and experiences to eventually qualify for pilot opportunities at FedEx,” said CEO Fred Smith. FedEx Express will work with Mountain Air Cargo and Empire Airlines to create “a collaborative outreach and engagement program,” the company said in a news release. The outreach program, beginning with Delta State University, in Mississippi, will aim to promote student interest in aviation careers.

The program has three main objectives, FedEx said: to promote the career development of pilots during their employment with the feeder; to assist the feeder operator in its efforts to recruit high-quality, well-trained candidates; and to provide FedEx Express with an early opportunity to evaluate feeder pilots as potential applicants for jobs at FedEx Express. Earlier this year, FedEx announced the purchase of 30 ATR 72-600F aircraft with the option to purchase up to 20 more for the company’s feeder fleet, along with a purchase agreement with Textron Aviation to purchase 50 Cessna SkyCourier 408F aircraft, with the option to purchase up to 50 more. FedEx said it plans to work with universities and aviation colleges around the country to educate students interested in an aviation career about the opportunities and development programs available to them at both the feeder operators and at FedEx Express.