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Delta Propels the Future of Flight Training

A Delta A220-100 on final approach. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

This past Tuesday, Delta Air Lines announced a new pathway to the flight deck via the Delta Propel Flight Academy. In partnership with Skyborne Aviation Academy, who is located in Vero Beach, Fla., the carrier will offer a route for aviators to progress from student pilots to a commercial pilot for the airline. The program is currently accepting applications with a slated start in June of this year. 

Students wishing to participate in the pathway program will be eligible to apply to Propel after completing their first certificate or rating with Skyborne. If accepted into the Propel Pathway, applicants will receive a conditional job offer and follow the progression path of the program. 

Similar to United Aviate Acadamy in Arizona, the Atlanta-based carrier will have student pilots trained from student to flight instructor, and then offered employment with Skyborne to work as a flight instructor until they reach their required flight time of 1500 hours to progress to flying an airliner. Participants will then have the option to fly for one of Delta’s regional affiliates: Endeavor Air, Republic Airways or SkyWest Airlines. After completing the required service requirements at a connection partner, participants will flow to Delta in 42 months or less. 

Flight Training Expenses

ATP flight school estimates the cost to start from zero hours to a commercial pilot with flight instructor certificates to be just under $97,000 — a large sum of money to commit at the start of a career. Skyborne breaks down the cost for Porpel academy to be $83,955, plus housing and required extras, bringing the total to $92,064.

Delta understands the hardship faced by the large cost upfront, so the major carrier is offering $20,000 in financial support to eligible student pilots. Additionally, the airline will cover the cost of interest on student loans from select lenders, helping students cover the investment in their careers. The program is expected to take students from zero hours to flight instructors in one year. 

Skyborne’s facility is in Vero Beach, Fla. where weather is conducive to flight training year-round. The flight school operates a fleet of 50 aircraft consisting of Piper Warriors, Arrows and Seminoles. The school boasts a newly renovated 12,000-square-foot training facility on its campus. By establishing this partnership, Skyborne will see an uptick in students flowing through their program and an influx of flight instructors who will be working for the school after completing their training. The partnership also affords Delta the opportunity to have pilots trained at an already well-established school beginning in a mere couple of months. 

Delta Propel 

The Propel Pathway was established in 2018 by Delta to, as the company states, “select and develop the next generation of pilots.” The program has now four established pathways through Company, College, Community and most recently Propel Flight Academy. So far, the program has generated 100 pilots to Delta flight decks, with another 700 in the program flying for regional partners or at other stages in the program. Along with flying for Delta’s regional partners, participants of the program also have career progression options of flying for Wheels Up or flying military aircraft for the Air National Guard or Reserves.  

Delta is the most recent major U.S. airline to announce a flight program affiliated with their company. United Airlines operates its own in-house Aviate Academy in Arizona, and American Airlines has Cadet Academy in partnership with flight schools like CAE and other partners in Arizona, California, Oklahoma and Texas.

Zach Cooke


  • Zach Cooke

    Zach’s love for aviation began when he was in elementary school with a flight sim and model planes. This passion for being in the air only intensified throughout high school when he earned his Private Pilot Certificate. He then attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, earning his certificates and ratings to later flight instruct and share his passion for aviation with others. He now resides in the North East living out his dream as an airline pilot.

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