Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research





Key words

airline pilot, pilot development, mentoring, training, retention


Consistently considered one of the world’s most stressful occupations, the job of an airline pilot requires increasingly specific skills and responsibilities, especially amidst the global pandemic (Cullen, et al., 2020; Sew, et al., 2022). Given the severity and implications of their decisions and actions, airline pilots must continuously undergo training and practices to ensure proper procedure. In 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) augmented qualifications by enacting Pilot Professional Development requirements (85 FR 10923), including mentoring for newly hired pilots in command (PIC’s). In complement with 85 FR 10923, CFR 121-N ensures “techniques for reinforcing the highest standards of technical performance, airmanship, and professional development in newly hired pilots” in command (CRF, 2020; FAA, 2020). Although meant to enhance skills and competencies, CFR 121-N allows for variability and discretion in implementation (FAA, 2020). This has led to diverse mentoring programs with mixed applications in mentoring across the industry. One specific airline mentoring program redesigned for intentionality and the expansion of the mentor mindset is the Horizon Air Pilot Development (PD) Mentor Program. Recognizing the need for mentoring to begin early in the employment process, the PD program underwent innovative formalization and restructuring to support Horizon Air core values and the belief that effective mentoring takes time to develop. Through the lens of mentoring research, this case study explores the novel processes, challenges, and best practices of the Horizon Air Pilot Development Mentor Program to gain additional insight about pilot satisfaction, future program development, and pilot recruitment and retention. Furthermore, this study offers results and impacts related to pre-employment pilot mentoring outcomes and presents a paradigm for the future of mentoring in the airline industry.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.