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Cadet Academy FAQs

Program overview

What Cadet Academy is:

The American Airlines Cadet Academy is an integrated flight training program that provides a clearly defined path to becoming a professional pilot. The goal of the program is to make flight training cost effective, efficient, and more accessible. Cadet Academy will ultimately give passionate and qualified candidates the tools and financial resources they need to become an ATP rated pilot.

What Cadet Academy is not:

Cadet Academy is not an offer of employment of any kind from American Airlines or any of its subsidiaries. Additionally, the Cadet Academy program cannot guarantee employment as a flight instructor. American Airlines will give you the necessary resources to be a successful candidate for an interview at Piedmont, PSA, or Envoy, and will make every effort to place you during the hour building phase.

Although a job is not guaranteed, due to the significant demand for pilots and instructors over the next several decades, American Airlines expects the vast majority of participants to become employed as flight instructors, and eventually, first officers.

How does Cadet Academy differ from other flight training programs?

Cadet Academy is designed to be turn-key, meaning all the variables such as ground school, flight certificates and ratings, and all required materials are covered by your tuition. You will not have any additional expenses beyond those you choose to incur. Because the professional pilot career can be tough to navigate, American will give each program participant a mentor who currently flies for American Airlines to help ensure your success in the program. Finally, because pilot training is expensive, American worked with an experienced financial lender, Discover® Student Loans, to create a custom career loan designed to fund your training in its entirety. You will be responsible to repay the principal balance and interest of the loan.


Who is eligible for the Program?

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Be legally eligible to work in the United States.
  • Be 21 years old by the completion of the approximately three year program.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Be able to obtain a valid FAA physical (first class medical).
  • Be able to obtain a valid passport with the ability to travel in and out of the United States.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking English.
  • Pass a background check.

How long will training take?

The training will require up to 18 months, followed by up to 24 months of experience building, after which you will be qualified for an airline interview.

Is there an application fee to apply to the Cadet Academy?

No, the application is free. Go to the main page and click “Start your application,” then use the Cadet Academy offer code “AACADET” to build your application free of charge.

How often do classes begin?

We expect classes to begin each month. Your start date may be subject to current class availability.


I have a Private Pilot Certificate- will this reduce my training cost?

Yes, however all applicants with prior flight training will be assessed by their chosen flight training school. A personalized plan will be made to give the Cadet credit for training criteria determined to have already been met.

What is the minimum age to apply?

There is no minimum age to apply to the Cadet Academy. However, you must be 21 years of age to obtain a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate, and the program takes approximately three years to complete.

Is there a maximum age?

There is not a maximum age to apply to the Cadet Academy. However, the FAA mandated retirement age for airline pilots is 65. Please keep this in mind when deciding if the American Airlines Cadet Academy is right for you.


How much does the program cost?

The cost of training varies slightly depending on what flight school you choose to attend.

Phoenix, AZ

Coast Flight
Dallas, TX
San Marcos, TX
San Diego, CA

Fort Lauderdale, FL

$89,165 $89,905 $79,185
The cost of housing and meals can also be added in, if necessary.

What is the cost of including room and board in the program?

The room and board costs vary by school and location, and all include a stipend for food. The costs are as follows:

  • CAE - $8,350
  • Coast Flight - $12,600
  • CTI - $20,480

Do I have to pay the full price up front?

No, the program cost is divided up into smaller payments. Depending on your flight school, you will be billed for your flight training costs in 3-5 installments initiated at the start of various certifications/ratings.

When does repayment of the loan begin?

No payments are required, up to 42 months, while you are making satisfactory academic progress during the Instruction and Hour Building phases as reported by the flight school or American Airlines. Once Instruction and Hour Building phases are complete, there is a three month grace period followed by the start of repayment. During deferment, interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the deferment period, any unpaid interest will by added to your principal balance. You can make payments any time to help reduce the overall cost of your loan and there is never a penalty for prepaying. The repayment period is 20 years.

If at any point during the Instruction Period or Hour Building Period you cease being enrolled in the program or are no longer making satisfactory academic progress, as reported by the flight school or American Airlines, your loan will enter repayment after a one-time three month grace period.

I’m a veteran. Can I use my GI bill as funding?

Funding varies in accordance with different GI Bills and their application at each flight school. Please reach out to the flight schools directly to inquire if GI Benefits can be applied to the American Airlines Cadet Academy program.


What if I’m uncertain which flight school to choose?

You do not have to choose your flight school until after you are accepted into the Cadet Academy. We will be happy to provide accepted cadets with all of the necessary details to make an informed decision.

Do I need a uniform for training?

Each participant will receive the Cadet Academy uniform appropriate for your chosen flight school.

Do I have to relocate for this program?

Yes, unless you currently live near one of our flight school partners, you will be required to relocate for full-time training.

What happens if I need help once I begin my training?

We want you to be successful in your training, and ultimately in your career. The teams at each of our flight school partners will be available to help with issues related to any part of your experience. We will also assign you an American Airlines mentor who can assist you along your journey.

What pilot certificates will Cadet Academy participants receive?

Successful participants will end their flight instruction phase with a Commercial Pilot Certificate with multi-engine and instrument ratings as well as their Certified Flight Instructor and Certified Flight Instructor-Instrument certificates. The CFI (Certified Flight Instructor Certificate) enables Cadets to instruct new students and build their time as they earn money. You will be eligible for the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate once you log approximately 1,500 hours of total flight experience.

Terminology Index

ATP:“Airline Transport Pilot Certificate”. The certification required to fly passengers and/or cargo aircrafts.
CFI:“Certified Flight Instructor” – A certification that allows you to instruct others in flying lessons.
CFII:“Certified Flight Instructor-IFR” – A certification that allows you to instruct others in flying lessons during IFR conditions.
Commercial Pilot Certificate: The certification required to act as an aircraft pilot and be paid for your work.
FAA:“Federal Aviation Administration” - The civil aviation regulatory authority in the US.
First class Medical: A medical certificate/clearance issued by an FAA-authorized examiner. A first-class certificate is required to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate.
Flight Instructor: Someone with a CFI/CFII who teaches students how to fly.
IFR Conditions: “Instrument Flight Rules” – Conditions which necessitate flying without reliance on visual references (inside clouds, night time, weather conditions, etc.). Flying under IFR conditions requires the utilization of the instruments in the flight deck and navigation by electronic signals.
Instrument Rating: A rating you obtain as an add-on to your private pilot, commercial pilot, or CFI certificates, which allows a pilot to fly under IFR conditions.
Multi-Engine Rating: A rating you obtain as an add-on to your private pilot, commercial pilot, or ATP certificates. It allows a pilot to fly aircraft with more than one engine.
Private Pilot Certificate: The certification required to fly as pilot in command of a private aircraft.
Regional Airline: Airlines offer service to smaller airports that cannot support major carriers. These airlines primarily connect these surrounding communities to larger airport hubs.
Wholly Owned Regional: One of the three regional airlines (Envoy, PSA, and Piedmont) that is entirely owned by American Airlines Group Inc. (AAG), which also owns American Airlines. These three airlines operate under the American Eagle brand. Also sometimes referred to as regional subsidiaries.