JetBlue Airways Corp. will prepare more aspiring pilots for the skies through a new training program set to launch this year.
A first of its kind program in the U.S., Gateway 7 will broaden the prospective pilot pool by opening up training to applicants with little or no aviation experience, JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw told Bloomberg; candidates will go through a rigorous selection process.
In addition to meeting the 1,500-hour flying time requirement, Gateway 7 program recruits will take academic classes at JetBlue and spend more time in flight simulators, where they’ll get experience flying through rough weather conditions.
In overseeing the new pilot training, JetBlue also will be able to expose future pilots to life as part of a crew on large aircraft earlier, McGraw said. Historically, most commercial airline pilots arrived at the country’s major carriers with piloting experience they gained while in the military, and in more recent years, they often come from aviation school.
While major U.S. carriers face a shrinking pool of pilots with which to work, as reported last February in Aviation Week, JetBlue said the new training program isn’t in response to a declining talent pool, and that Gateway 7 would not be replace the cache of extant training programs; it will supplement them.
McGraw told Bloomberg in November the company will begin accepting applications in the first quarter and start training mid-2016.