AAP Aviation and Icelandair’s comprehensive approach to cadet selection - 40% of selected candidates are women

AAP Aviation

Icelandair recently embarked on a rigorous selection process for their cadet program designed in collaboration with our pilot school Pilot Flight Academy (PFA) demonstrating prudence and commitment to finding the most suitable candidates for their integrated ATPL program. In total, 28 cadets where selected – 11 of whom are women.  

 Icelandair's decision to optimize the cadet selection process aligns well with their unwavering devotion to providing safe and reliable commercial flights. By seeking and nurturing aspiring pilots early on, the airline is working proactively to ensure a steady pipeline of qualified pilots to meet the company’s growing needs. 

 In an effort to go beyond the standard aptitude testing, Icelandair teamed up with AAP Aviation. This article delves into the thorough selection process conducted by AAP Aviation, how it benefits both Icelandair and aspiring pilots and the outcome of the selection process. 


AAP Aviation and Icelandair's recruitment team. 

A Multi-faceted Approach 

Traditionally, candidates aspiring to enroll in an integrated ATPL program need to pass aptitude tests and undergo a medical examination to ensure they possess the necessary skills to succeed. However, Icelandair sought for this specific selection a more robust process and incorporated several additional elements with the help of AAP Aviation:

  1. Aptitude Testing: The first stage involved general aptitude testing to assess various cognitive abilities required for piloting roles.
  2. Personality Testing: Applicants underwent personality assessments to gauge their compatibility and suitability for the demanding pilot profession.
  3. Group Exercises: Candidates were put through a series of group exercises to evaluate their teamwork, communication, and leadership abilities among other competencies.
  4. Personal One-to-One Interviews: Individual interviews allowed assessors to delve deeper into candidates' motivation, aspirations, and personal qualities.
  5. Monitoring Candidate Interactions: Throughout the selection process, candidates' interactions with others were closely observed and assessed.

Collaboration with Icelandair's Pilots 
To ensure a comprehensive evaluation and provide insight on the cultural fit for Icelandair, stages three, four, and five were conducted in collaboration with seasoned Icelandair pilots. The involvement of highly qualified individuals added valuable expertise to the selection process and facilitated a thorough assessment of candidates.

Benefits of the Process 

Implementing this comprehensive selection process had numerous benefits for both Icelandair and aspiring pilots, such as:  

  1. Early Identification of Potential: The process enabled the identification of candidates' potential at an early stage, providing Icelandair with valuable insights for successful pilot recruitment.
  2. Targeted Improvement Opportunities: Areas for development and improvement were pinpointed, allowing young candidates to focus on enhancing specific skills to meet the airline's standards.
  3. Predicting Candidate Success: Through comprehensive analysis and evaluation, the selection process aimed to predict the candidates' likelihood of success in the integrated ATPL program.

The Importance of Quality Training 

While some argue that it is possible to train a pilot from scratch in as little as one year, maintaining industry standards is of paramount importance. To uphold high-performance levels and educational standards, it is crucial to have pilots who are trained for the necessary duration. This approach guarantees that pilots enter the industry with the required expertise, ensuring safety and efficiency from the beginning. 

Icelandair's commitment to an extensive selection process for their cadet program, including the selection of 11 women, displays their dedication to finding the most capable and motivated pilots, while also promoting greater equality in aviation. By collaborating with AAP Aviation and employing a multi-faceted approach, Icelandair ensures that the selected candidates possess the necessary aptitudes, personality traits, and motivations to excel in the program. This proactive approach to pilot recruitment and training is crucial in meeting the airline's expansion goals and maintaining high industry standards, and adopting similar strategies to address the impending pilot shortage effectively is something we strongly advise other airlines to also consider doing in the near future in order to overgo the expected pilot shortage in the future.  

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