Wings Magazine

JetBlue, CAE partner to train aspiring pilots

JetBlue has announced the launch of its seventh pilot recruiting pathway, Gateway Select, the airline's new competency-based training program for aspiring pilots.

March 7, 2016  By JetBlue

Applications for Gateway Select can be submitted starting today at

JetBlue also announced it will partner with CAE to help deliver Gateway Select’s training curriculum, leveraging CAE’s experience in delivering competency-based training programs to airlines throughout the world.

Gateway Select allows participants the opportunity to become JetBlue pilots after completing a rigorous four-year training program that incorporates classroom learning, extensive real-world flying experience and instruction in full-flight simulators. The highly selective program is designed specifically for candidates without previous aviation training who demonstrate the most desired qualities in a pilot.

With Gateway Select, JetBlue hopes to train and hire high-quality pilots while also making the profession more accessible to a broader range of candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences. JetBlue anticipates the program will open up the profession by helping make the dream of becoming a pilot a reality to people who would not have had the opportunity.


“Many dream of becoming a pilot but are deterred by financial realities,” said Warren Christie, senior vice president of safety, security, and training, JetBlue. “We have an opportunity to create the best pilot training program in the U.S. while also removing some of the economic and social barriers so that those with the natural aptitude can pursue their dream.”

Highly Selective Applicant Assessments
Applicants will undergo a series of assessments aimed at identifying those who demonstrate the qualities needed to become a high-performing pilot. The evaluation is based on recommended International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) pilot competencies and JetBlue’s own selection criteria, including commitment to JetBlue’s unique customer-focused culture.

First, applicants will complete locally proctored tests covering a range of skills like multitasking, critical thinking, spatial orientation, and hand-eye coordination. Those who qualify from the initial assessment will advance to an onsite testing and interview process at JetBlue.

Of the final candidates participating in the onsite testing, 24 will be offered a placement in Gateway Select. They will begin the program in a series of small groups, with the first targeted to begin in late summer 2016.

Rigorous Training
Gateway Select takes the best from training programs used by the U.S. military and international airlines, and applies the same safety standards and federal requirements as current pilots.

“Much like the model U.S. military pilot training programs use, we have built a challenging curriculum that uses a consistent operating philosophy from the very first day of training,” Christie said. “This is a major advancement in commercial pilot training. The traditional path will continue to produce excellent pilots, and now we will supplement the talent pool with pilots who are trained specifically for safe and efficient operations at JetBlue.”

“Over the past 10-plus years, CAE has established itself as a trusted partner of JetBlue in the oversight of its training equipment operations at JetBlue University,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s group president, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “We now have a unique opportunity to further tap into our breadth of flight training capabilities and support JetBlue in providing world-class training built for the next generation of pilots.”

Through the intensive four-year program, pilot trainees will complete a series of training phases, with constant guidance and mentorship from JetBlue, to build the skills and experience required of a pilot for a major airline:

  • Trainees will begin at JetBlue University in Orlando for four weeks with the fundamentals of aviation.
  • Trainees will continue to CAE’s flight academy in Phoenix for 30 weeks to develop core flying skills. Upon completion, candidates will receive their private pilot’s license.
  • Trainees will then return to JetBlue University for training on highly complex transport category aircraft, concluding with the completion of the Airline Transport Pilot – Certification Training Program (ATP-CTP). Training will include the safe and efficient operation of the Embraer 190 (E190).
  • Next, trainees will return to CAE in Phoenix for 12 weeks of additional FAA licensing requirements. Trainees will then attend an instructor course to achieve their CFI (certified flight instructor) qualifications and ratings. Upon completion, trainees will then begin working as entry-level salaried instructors for CAE’s flight academy while accumulating flight hours to achieve the FAA’s 1,500 flight-hour requirement.

Once meeting the FAA and Gateway Select requirements, pilots will become a new hire at JetBlue, where they complete the same orientation and six-week instruction that all E190 first officers complete.

Supporting Accessibility to and Diversity in the Profession
Recognizing the need to support further diversity into the pilot profession, JetBlue will work to recruit applicants from minority colleges and technical schools, and partner with organizations seeking to promote greater inclusion in the pilot community.

“Gateway Select offers an innovative approach to pilot development that pushes beyond the traditional barriers and opens a unique opportunity to pursue a career in the cockpit based on a candidate’s aptitude,” said Captain Karl Minter, chairman, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. “JetBlue has shown a passion for encouraging youth to pursue their dreams of a career in aviation with projects like our ACE Academy. With Gateway Select, JetBlue is also providing an additional path to those careers.”

“JetBlue has long been a supporter of Women in Aviation and its efforts to encourage women to pursue careers in aviation,” said Women in Aviation President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. “JetBlue’s new Gateway Select program is an exciting new way to create meaningful pathways for students to pursue their dream of flying. We are particularly confident that the program will encourage more women to consider an aviation career.”

Because the traditional model requires pilots to make a significant financial investment over numerous years without the guarantee of a job, Gateway Select has been designed to bring more predictability and a lower overall cost to aspiring pilots.

Trainees will receive a contingent job offer at the beginning of the program, guaranteeing them a position with JetBlue if they complete all elements of the program successfully. Trainees will also have an opportunity to earn a competitive salary while working as entry-level flight instructors with CAE.

JetBlue hires hundreds of new pilots every year, recruiting through its seven pilot pathways. These pathways include University Gateway, Blue Dart Sponsorship and qualified first officer recruiting. Information about all of JetBlue’s pilot recruitment pathways, including Gateway Select, can be found at


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