(30/01/23) The United Aviate Academy flight school is celebrating the graduation of its inaugural class of pilots, an important step towards training the next generation of aviators.
The inaugural graduating class includes 51 students, marking the next step towards the airline’s goal to train about 5,000 new pilots at the school by 2030.
To support its planned growth, United hired about 2,400 pilots in 2022 and plans to hire another 2,500 this year, intending to add at least 10,000 pilots by the end of this decade.
The inaugural class of pilots recently graduated from the United Aviate Academy flight school
“United is leading the industry in the training, recruitment and hiring of the next generation of talented commercial pilots and the progress we’ve made at United Aviate Academy after just one year is another example of an airline where good leads the way,” said United CEO, Scott Kirby. “I’m so proud of this first class of graduates – they’ve taken an important first step in their career and they reflect our commitment to hiring people who exceed the highest professional and safety standards. I look forward to eventually welcoming them to our United team and I can’t wait to see them flying our new United Next planes in the years to come.”
United Aviate Academy graduates can continue to build flight time and leadership experience while continuing within the United Aviate pilot career development program’s ecosystem.
Some graduates will work as Certified Flight Instructors at the academy to continue accruing the 1,500 required flying hours – a common industry practice for aspiring pilots – while others will build experience at participating flight schools or universities, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University and Hampton University.
The United Aviate program then encourages graduates to eventually fly for an United Express carrier, take on leadership roles at an Aviate participating Part 135 operator, or become a Fleet Technical Instructor at United to complete their training.
Aviate participants can expect to become a United pilot within about six years of graduating from United Aviate Academy.
Captaining Your Career
United currently has more than 14,000 pilots.
Captains of United’s Boeing 787s and 777s can earn more than $350,000 per year plus a rich package of benefits. In addition, United pilots receive one of the highest 401(k) matches in the U.S. – 16% of base pay.
While the airline continues to see strong interest in pilot roles from military and civilian backgrounds as well as from other carriers, for many people becoming a pilot seems not only out of reach financially, but completely unimaginable.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 5.6% of pilots are women and 6% are people of color. And training to achieve a commercial pilot’s license in the U.S. can cost at least $100,000, with supplementary costs adding to the financial burden.
To help address financial barriers to entry, United and JPMorgan Chase & Co. established a scholarship fund in 2020 and are working with industry partners to award more than $5 million in scholarships for prospective academy students. In addition, Boeing has committed funding to expand the program this year.
United Aviate Academy
In the flight school’s first year of operations, collectively, the students have flown more than 2 million miles, achieved more than 250 aviation certificates, and completed more than 68,000 takeoffs and landings.
The aspiring pilots also organized 174 “Pool Dunks” in the campus swimming pool, a new tradition that commemorates each time a student completes a solo flight for the first time.
The 340,000 square-foot facility at Phoenix Goodyear Airport features:
– Forty late-model Cirrus SR-20 series single-engine aircraft, which feature advanced safety characteristics;
– Seven FRASCA flight simulators;
– Nearly 50,000 square feet of office space;
– Multiple aircraft hangars;
– Dormitory rooms for student housing with ample room for expansion;
– Proximity to many auxiliary airfields in the Phoenix area; and
– Favorable weather for year-round flight training.
The flight school currently has more than 240 students.