Spirit Airlines expands pilot program with Texas US Aviation Academy

A Spirit Airlines A320 NEO approaches to land.
Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spirit Airlines is turning to Texas to expand its pipeline of highly-skilled, professional pilots. The carrier has announced that the US Aviation Academy in Denton, Texas, will be the latest partner to join the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway pilot training program.

The Texas flight school offers comprehensive pilot training and is conveniently located near one of Spirit’s Pilot crew bases at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), which provides graduates with opportunities to build relationships and progress to a successful career as a Spirit First Officer.

Candidate requirements

Candidates must successfully complete their flight training at US Aviation Academy and achieve approximately 500 hours of total flight time to apply for the program.

If successful in Spirit’s interview process, they will receive a conditional offer of employment, a Spirit Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and mentorship as they work toward completing the hours required for an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

Program pilots who meet all requirements will then join the team as a Spirit First Officer.

A Spirit Airlines A320 with ground staff.
Photo Credits: Spirit Airlines


“US Aviation Academy has all the attributes of a top-notch flight school, and that’s exactly the type of partner we are looking for as we expand our pilot pipeline,” said Ryan Rodosta, Senior Director of Flight Operations and System Chief Pilot at Spirit Airlines.

“We’re adding new planes and new destinations, and our continued growth makes this the perfect opportunity to start working toward a career on the flight deck with us.”

“US Aviation Academy is excited to present a new career pathway for professional pilots to support Spirit Airlines’ growth. Both companies have a history of innovation and a commitment to safety and high-quality training, which makes for a great partnership,” said Scott Sykes, Chief Development Officer for US Aviation Academy.

Shortage of skilled airline pilots

The United States commercial aviation sector is facing a shortage of trained airline pilots. The shortage is expected to worsen in the coming years, as the number of retirements from the pilot workforce exceeds the number of new pilots entering the industry.

There are a number of factors contributing to the shortage, including:

An aging pilot workforce: The average age of a commercial airline pilot in the United States is 55 years old. As these pilots reach retirement age, they will be replaced by a smaller pool of younger pilots.

Increased travel demand: The number of people traveling by air is expected to grow in the coming years, which will put additional strain on the pilot workforce.

Increased training requirements: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has increased the training requirements for airline pilots, which has made it more difficult and expensive to become a pilot.

Lower pay and benefits: The pay and benefits for airline pilots have generally not kept pace with other industries, which has made it more difficult to attract and retain pilots. Notably, Spirit Airlines pilots recently improved contract providing increased pay and enhanced benefits.

The shortage of trained airline pilots is a serious problem that could have a significant impact on the aviation industry.

Airlines may be forced to reduce flights or increase ticket prices in order to compensate for the shortage of pilots. The shortage could also lead to delays and cancellations, which could inconvenience passengers and disrupt travel plans.

About Spirit Airlines

Spirit’s pilots soar to over 90 destinations across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean in some of the newest, most fuel-efficient aircraft in the industry.

More brand-new planes are planned for delivery in 2023, including eight new Airbus A321neo aircraft, creating opportunities for First Officers to quickly upgrade to Captain.

Spirit also offers its pilots industry-leading training and exceptional quality of life.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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