Airline Cadet programs are back!

  • July 1, 2021

One thing we have been telling our pilots is to start watching out for cadet programs opening back up. These programs are a great way to get to know an airline better and also help you get hired. In some cases, cadets are even guaranteed a job.

The idea behind a cadet program is to actually build a relationship with a prospective pilot. The difficulty with airlines, it is hard to get a feel for their culture unless you’re already working for them. If you ask me, that’s too late! 

As a cadet, you’ll be invited to different events whether virtual or in-person to get to know not only your future fellow pilots, but also those in non-flying positions (like your Chief Pilot!) These events provide you with a better understanding of how each airline operates so you can make a more informed decision about your career.

We recommend 2-3 cadet programs, but no more. Do your research ahead of time and don’t waste the airline’s time if you don’t intend to go there. Recruiters start to get a good feel for when people aren’t being honest about intentions, and a major problem is this industry is extremely small. The person recruiting you for a regional cadet program could be the person interviewing you at a legacy carrier four years later--and they’ll remember you.

As a final piece of advice, if the cadet program offers you any kind of monetary incentive (bonuses, paid to fly, cash, etc.), then they intend for you to fly for them. If you are not sure if you’ll fly for them, do not take the money. When you hit your milestone hours (ATP mins), they’ll expect you to show up for class and when you don’t….they’ll be expecting their money back. Be conscious about this, they’re investing in you and have expectations.

If you fly for a regional airline and didn’t participate in cadet programs, you’re missing out on ensuring you made the right decision. Airlines are a lot more than bases, aircraft, and upgrades. You’ll spend years of your life sitting 30 inches away from the people you work with, and you want to make sure you choose wisely. As cadet programs announce their openings, we would love to hear your thoughts about the programs. Please comment below, or join us in our free Flex Air Facebook community for student and low-time pilots.