Know exactly what to expect

Career progression

Flight training overview

Cadet Academy makes it easy to navigate your professional pilot career from the first flight as a student pilot to being hired as an airline pilot. Although Cadet Academy does not guarantee employment at any point, we will ensure that you are exceptionally prepared for a successful interview.

The American Airlines Cadet Academy is broken into two phases: Instruction and Experience.

Instruction Phase
Up to 18 months
  • Private Pilot Certificate
  • Instrument Rating
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate
  • Multi-Engine Rating
  • Flight Instructor Certificate (CFI, CFII)
Experience Phase
Up to 24 months
  • Work as a paid Flight Instructor
  • Remain connected to your Cadet Academy mentor
  • Build flight hours toward your Airline Transport Pilot Certificate minimums

When it is time for you to build your hours, the intention will be to place you as a paid flight instructor at the same school where you did your training. However, if a flight instructor position is not offered at your respective flight school, the Cadet Academy team will make every reasonable effort to find the best fit for you at one of the 50+ flight schools that our regional subsidiaries (Envoy, PSA, and Piedmont) partner with.

Career progression overview

The airline industry will see a large number of pilots retire in the next several years due to the FAA-mandated retirement age of 65. This, combined with the strong global demand for air travel, means the current demand for airline pilots is extremely high. Industry models forecast a need for approximately 14,500 incremental aviators by 2026.

The career progression of a pilot is seniority-based, allowing for a projection of the annual earnings when following the Cadet Academy track.

The chart below illustrates a conservative forecast of the ideal career trajectory of an American Airlines Cadet, if hired by a wholly owned regional airline. After working as a certified flight instructor, the Cadet begins their professional pilot career as a first officer for an AA wholly owned regional subsidiary. Once they attain valuable experience, they will then be able to upgrade to captain. Remain in good standing and as soon as they accrue sufficient seniority flying at an AAG subsidiary, the Cadet will flow up to American Airlines without a further interview. From there, the pilot has the opportunity to upgrade to captain, and upgrade to larger aircraft as their seniority progresses.