Delta Air Lines
Mainline Airline, Organization Dedicated to Positive Local and Global Change
On January 9, 2001, Delta Air Lines and Western Michigan University announced an agreement that included $1.65 million in support from Delta over a four-year period to train women and minority students to become professional pilots. Students were vetted by Delta and trained using WMU’s “ab initio,” or “from the beginning,” flight training curriculum. This commitment was unheard of in American aviation and WMU was the only training program in the world approved by the FAA to provide ab initio training in accordance with FAA regulations. More than one hundred individuals expressed interest in the program and ultimately twenty-four were selected: sixteen females and eight males. Once trained, the student’s successful integration into the ranks of commercial pilots would help address an industry-wide lack of female and minority representation in the flight-deck. Twenty one successfully completed the program and went on to professional careers in aviation, the military, or the government. Delta Air Lines increased the presence of women and minorities in the field of aviation, increased their presence within their own organization, and showed that with proper selection and training, proficient and competent pilots can be successful with less flight training hours.