United Airlines is the first major, U.S.-based airline to own and operate its own flight school.
Last week, United Airlines signed a purchase agreement to take ownership of Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix. It will serve as an extension of United’s Aviate program, a kind of career blueprint map for prospective pilots. It offers pilots the advantages of United’s robust fleet and corporate structure to give as many pilots success as possible.
The airline’s ambitious goal, to hire more than 10,000 pilots by 2029, is closer than ever with the acquisition. The United Aviate Academy gives the airline more direct control of pilot training. One of the airline’s stated goals is to increase the number of women and minorities who become pilots, according to a United news release.
“Launching our own academy provides us with the unique opportunity to not only ensure we maintain the ideal number of quality candidates within our pilot pipeline, but also play a significant role in recruiting, developing and welcoming those with diverse backgrounds to the United family,” said Bebe O’Neil, captain and managing director, Aviate.
United’s goal of training and raising its own crop of pilots extends past the establishment of its own flight school. According to the airline, financial struggles are a big concern for aspiring pilots, so United also works with financial institutions to help make pilot training more affordable.
A few of United’s partners in the academy include Western Michigan University, US Aviation Academy, Lufthansa Aviation Training Academy and Air Wisconsin.
According to United, Aviate includes a number of options for pilots looking to expand professional prospects, including access to mentoring, increased transparency and immediate access to United’s corporate family.
Do you think other major airlines should look into maintaining their own flight schools? Do these flight schools increase your confidence in United’s pilots? Tell us. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.
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