Alaska Airlines launches program for prospective black pilots
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Delaware State University were selected as the first schools to participate in Alaska Airlines’ new True North Pilot Pathway program.
The program was designed by a group of African-American pilots to make the pilot profession more accessible and to find a more direct path to their careers. Both schools are HBCUs (historically black universities and colleges).
About True North
True North is a development program for prospective pilots that assists in the training and placement of pilots. As the program rolls out, it will fund flight lab costs for four students (two from each school), from post-instrument through R-ATP.
Throughout the program, students will have access to internship and mentoring opportunities with pilots from Alaska. Students who complete the True North pilot program are offered guaranteed first officer positions with Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines.
The True North program was put in place to help Alaska meet the carrier’s goal of increasing racial diversity at all levels to 30 percent by 2025.
“Education and opportunity transform the lives of talented young people. I am delighted that Alaska is helping bring bright minds and the next generation to aviation, ”said Constance von Muehlen, COO of Alaska Airlines. “We look forward to meeting the future of our business through this program. ”
University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Heidi M. Anderson said the program removes one of the main barriers that potential pilots face.
“Often the barrier for students entering this in-demand, high-paying career is the cost of flight training,” Anderson said in a statement. “This partnership will allow any student coming to UMES and wishing to become a pilot to continue their course regardless of their financial situation.
Delaware State Aviation Program Director Lt. Col. Michael Hales agreed.
“This partnership agreement between Del State and Alaska Airlines is a game-changer for the industry,” Hales said in a statement. “For the first time in recent history, students have the option of having their flight lab fees paid as early as their second year.”
Alaska Airlines hopes to integrate other schools into the program in the future. The airline said the program’s first students will be selected early this year.