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Cadet Academy FAQs

Program overview

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.

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 successful for flying with Piedmont, PSA, or Envoy.

This letter is not an offer of employment, and your acceptance of this Conditional Offer of Program Admission does not guarantee an opportunity of employment with American, now or at any time in the future.

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. As long as you stay within the guidelines of the program, 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 has an experienced financial lender, American Airlines Federal Credit Union, to create a custom career loan designed to fund the entire school-certified cost of your training, you will be responsible to repay the loan’s principal balance and interest.


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.
  • Complete a Discovery Flight or Introductory Flight
  • Pass a background check.

The training will require up to 18 months, followed by up to 24 months of experience building.

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.

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


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.

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.

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.


The cost of training varies slightly depending on what flight school you choose to attend.
  • CAE (Phoenix, AZ): $99,500
  • Coast Flight (Dallas, TX / San Diego, CA / San Marcos, TX): $109,590                         
    *Includes DPE fees, FAA fees, and supplies
  • Infinity Flight Group (Trenton, NJ): $99,395
  • Spartan (Tulsa, OK): $94,101

You have the option to include a room and board package for the duration of your instruction phase. The housing costs vary by school and location, and all can include a stipend for food. Those who remain on-track and do not have any training setbacks should need approximately 12 months of housing. For more information on housing costs, please reach out to our flight schools directly:

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.

American Airlines Federal Credit Union requires no payments for up to 45 months while enrolled and making satisfactory progress as reported by the flight school and American Airlines. No payments or interest charged during the Instruction phase (up to 18 months). After completion of your Instruction phase, there is a 27 month grace period where interest will begin to accrue, followed by the start of normal repayment. All accrued interest will be added to your principal balance at the start of repayment.

Payments may be made during the enrolled period to reduce the overall cost of your loan and will apply to interest first, then principal. There are no fees or penalties for early payments. If satisfactory academic progress is not maintained or you are no longer enrolled in the program, the loan will enter a one-time six month grace period not to exceed 27 months from the completion of your Instruction phase.

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.

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.

American Airlines Federal Credit Union has cadet financial advocates who can work with you to create a personal program specific to your own financial situation. You will have access to credit union-certified financial counselors who will help walk you through the budgeting process. In addition, you will have access to The Navigator, the credit union’s online interactive guide with easy-to-use budgeting tools. The cadet financial advocates can provide continuous accountability, support, and guidance. These are membership benefits available to all cadets regardless of whether AAFCU finances your cadet student loan.


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.

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

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

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.

While your basic training (along with a small amount of remedial training) is included in the program’s turn-key pricing, any participant who fails to meet training benchmarks may incur additional costs. The school will provide each participant with a summary of what is included in their program cost at the initiation of their training. At the point any participant approaches additional costs, the school will meet with them to evaluate progress and discuss options (which may include removing some ratings from their training plan).

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.

Flight Student Loans are made by American Airlines Federal Credit Union, not American Airlines or flight training partners.