United Airlines announced it will establish United Aviate Academy, an expansion of its Aviate initiative first launched October 2019. The decision makes United the first major U.S. carrier to own and operate its own flight training academy.
United said the school will produce around 300 graduating students in its first full year of operation, which will help the airline achieve its goal of hiring more than 10,000 new pilots by 2029. The academy will open at a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, currently operating as Westwind School of Aeronautics.
The program is designed to give prospective pilots a path toward captainship with United Airlines. It’s the most direct career path available in the industry. United says it will take steps to offer scholarships encouraging women and minorities with aspirations to become pilots.
Successful candidates will receive an offer of employment with United.
“We have developed the Aviate program in collaboration with the Air Line Pilots Association, International, to have a greater influence on the next generation of aviators at United,” Captain Bebe O’Neil, managing director of Aviate, United Airlines, said in a statement. “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.”
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