We've all heard plenty about the shortage of drivers needed to pilot big rigs over the nation's roads. Now, one provider is taking steps to avoid a similar shortage in another venue—the nation's skies.
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of Memphis, Tenn.-based transport and logistics giant FedEx Corp., recently launched a pilot development program designed to produce the next generation of cargo-plane pilots. Known as "Purple Runway—A FedEx Pathways Program," the initiative aims to recruit the best aviators in the industry over the coming years, providing the airline and its feeder operators with a pipeline of highly trained and qualified aviators.
FedEx Express, along with its feeder operators Mountain Air Cargo and Empire Airlines, will run an outreach and engagement program to promote student interest in aviation careers at selected colleges and universities, the firm said. "FedEx is initiating a new industry-leading pilot development program to ensure a full pipeline of pilots for us and the industry at large," FedEx Chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith said in a statement. "[The program is designed] to assist two of our feeder operators with the recruitment and retention of pilots who wish to develop their skills and experiences to eventually qualify for pilot opportunities at FedEx."
The FedEx Express feeder network is a component of the unit's overall global linehaul network, serving markets too small for direct FedEx Express air linehaul service and markets where FedEx Express does not have operating rights, the company said. The feeder network includes more than 300 aircraft serving 45 countries.