In an effort to improve diversity, Delta Air Lines announced that their Propel Collegiate Pilot Career Path Program will partner with Hampton University to recruit more African American pilots. In 2018, Delta launched its Propel program to identify, select and develop the next generation of pilots. And although other airlines have launched recruitment efforts to increase diversity, Delta’s partnership with Hampton University is a first for the airline. Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian made a commitment last year to advance racial justice and diversity within the company. Hampton University’s Department of Aviation in the School of Engineering & Technology was established in 1985. According to the University, their aviation program is one of only 40 accredited by Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI)
Since the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American aviators, played a major role in the United States Army Air Corps in 1941, there has been a significant decline of African American pilots in the US. Flying magazine reported last month that there are about 14,000 active-duty pilots and less than 300 (2%)are African American. The Labor Statistics Bureau reported in December 2021 that approximately 3.4% of African Americans listed their profession as pilots and flight engineers. Michael Hankins, a historian and curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, said there’s no policy in place that prevents African Americans from choosing to be pilots. Hankins added that “there’s just something where maybe it’s a recruitment issue, maybe it’s a retention issue, maybe it’s the day-to-day life of these pilots.”
Delta Air Lines said the “partnership helps broaden diversity and builds upon the significant legacy people of color have contributed to aviation”.