Ameriflight, UPS Airlines launch joint training program for pilots

In response to a looming pilot shortage in the airfreight industry, Ameriflight and UPS Airlines have launched the UPS/Ameriflight Gateway Program to get pilots the hours and skills required to operate UPS Airline’s larger aircraft.

Two trainees are already in the program, and Ameriflight plans to add two more in July. Further ahead, Ameriflight hopes to scale up the program as well.

The collaboration offers outlined paths for UPS Airlines’ Intern Program participants to gain Part 135 flying experience at Ameriflight, with the ultimate goal of proceeding to UPS Airlines, a Part 121-certificated air carrier.

The program benefits from a waiver from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that allows Ameriflight pilots to operate as captains after 1,000 flight hours, with certain restrictions and increased oversight.

The program launches in a market where a pilot shortage is already forcing regional passenger carriers and feeder freight operators to cut routes and limit expansion.

In addition to mentoring the pilots-in-training, the program allows the students to participate in UPS programs. The program also qualifies graduates for employment with Ameriflight and UPS Airlines, upon completion of outlined experience and training requirements.

Ameriflight chief operating officer Bill Poerstel said that the joint agreement would allow Ameriflight to “turn UPS interns into Ameriflight pilots, ultimately helping to support UPS for years to come.”

“Promoting pilot careers is important for the long-term health of the aviation industry,” said Capt. Roger Quinn, UPS Airlines’ director of training.” This program is a unique strategy to help ensure highly skilled pilot staffing into the future.”

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