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Liberty’s School of Aeronautics, Spirit Airlines announce partnership, extending pilot pipeline

Spirit Airlines Base Chief Pilot Carl Stallone (left) holds a model of one of its planes beside School of Aeronautics Dean Rick Roof in front of one of Liberty’s Cessna 172 Skyhawk training aircraft on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Reynolds)


Spirit Airlines recently announced a new partnership with Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics to become the company’s 10th flight school to launch the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program, which offers graduates a fast track to the flight deck.

“Liberty University offers a premier pilot training program designed to provide graduates with the skills to lead in the aviation field, and Spirit’s growth creates opportunities for those graduates to achieve their dreams with us,” Spirit Airlines Senior Director of Flight Operations and System Chief Pilot Ryan Rodosta said.

Liberty students pursuing a B.S. degree including commercial pilot training can apply for the program after finishing their sophomore year and obtaining a recommendation from a faculty member. If successful in Spirit’s interview process, they will receive a conditional offer of employment, a Spirit Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), and mentorship as they complete their degree and build flight hours. After reaching Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) minimum requirements, program pilots must successfully complete the Spirit-funded and approved Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program (ATP CTP) and Jet Transition Course. Graduates who meet all program requirements will join the team as Spirit first officers.

“We are delighted to join with Spirit Airlines as the 10th partner in their Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program,” Liberty School of Aeronautics Dean Rick Roof said. “This partnership is a major step in creating exceptional opportunities for our graduates, providing selected Liberty-trained aviation professionals with a unique pathway directly to Spirit once they fulfill the necessary training and experience. Spirit will gain access to pilots with exceptional technical skills and the character to be difference-makers in the aerospace industry, while Liberty Aeronautics graduates can become a member of the Spirit team where they will join a recognized leader in quality of life while flying some of the most advanced aircraft in the skies. This is an incredible opportunity for our Champions to fulfill their aviation dreams, and their calling to serve.”

Spirit Airlines is one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient airlines in the United States. Aviation Week Network’s Air Transport World (ATW) named Spirit the Value Airline of the Year as part of the ATW 2023 Airline Industry Achievement Awards. Spirit was also recognized for safety with the FAA’s Aviation Maintenance Technician Diamond Award of Excellence for the fifth consecutive year and was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Companies in Travel & Hospitality in 2022, which ranks the 25 best workplaces to grow a career in the industry.

Spirit’s pilots fly some of the newest, most fuel-efficient aircraft in the industry to 90-plus destinations across the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. More brand-new planes are planned for delivery in 2023, including eight new Airbus A321neo aircraft, creating opportunities for first officers to quickly upgrade to the rank of captain. Spirit’s pilots recently approved a contract that provides a significant pay increase and other enhanced benefits, including industry-leading training.

To learn more about the program and the application process, visit Liberty.edu/Spiritwings.


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