08 SEP 2017: JetBlue is dealing with an imminent pilot shortage in an unconventional way.  The airline is extending the application process until September 30 for 24 candidates to begin the four-year pilot training programme. Those with little or no flying experience are welcome to apply, as did a baggage handler, a grocery-store clerk, a heavy-equipment operator and an accountant from the 2016 programme.

The New York based carrier may be the first in the US to offer pilot training to people who have never flown before, but they are in fact replicating programmes in Europe and Asia.

Candidates are expected to take online tests to determine cognitive, spacial-orientation, and math and science skills. Those who succeed are sent to on-site interviews to determine their suitability with the airline.

The next step for those moving forward is attendance at CAE’s Oxford Academy in Mesa, Arizona for 30 weeks to earn their initial licenses.

Trainees are then sent to JetBlue University in Orlando, to begin training to operate the Embraer 190 or Airbus 320 aircraft. This is followed by 12 weeks of training in Phoenix before becoming a flight instructor.

As a flight instructor, the trainees will earn a salary and gain the minimum 1,500 hours to earn their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

Those who take the training can expect to pay up to $125,000 by the time they are qualified but they are promised a first officer position with the airline upon completion.

JetBlue hires hundreds of pilots each year, and the number of pilots who are licensed by this programme is minimal, but the airlines’ senior vice president of safety, security and air operations, Warren Christie stated, “I think we’ve opened it up to a candidate pool that might not otherwise have thought it was an opportunity for them.”

He added, “I think we’re excited that it’s as successful as we hoped it would be."

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