United Officially Opens Flight Academy and Welcomes Historic Inaugural Pilot Class

Last summer, United unveiled its ambitious United Next strategy to revolutionize the United flying experience, introducing more than 500 new narrow-body aircraft to its fleet to match the expected air traffic revival. United plans to hire at least 10,000 new pilots by 2030 to meet this need, including about 5,000 from the United Aviate Academy.

United Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby and United President Brett Hart were joined today by Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration Brad Mims and other government officials at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport to welcome the new students. The group also outlined United’s plan to help break down some of the barriers to entry through targeted recruiting, strategic partnerships, and scholarship and financial aid solutions.

“Our pilots are the best in the industry and have set a high standard of excellence,” said Kirby. Recruiting and educating even more people with the same level of talent, motivation and skill is the right thing to do and will make us an even better airline. I couldn’t be more proud of this first group of students and look forward to meeting each other the thousands of talented individuals who will pass through these doors in the coming years.”

Unfortunately, becoming a pilot seems not only financially unfeasible for many people, but also completely unthinkable. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 5.6% of pilots are women and 6% are people of color. Obtaining a commercial pilot’s license in the US can cost approximately: $100,000 and to become an Airline Transport Pilot requires 1,500 hours of flying time, which requires significant commitment.

United and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have renewed last year’s commitment to nearly $2.4 million in scholarships for prospective aviators attending the United Aviate Academy. The airline also works directly with the following organizations to educate prospects about the benefits of becoming a pilot and find applicants for scholarships:

  • Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals
  • Sisters of the Sky
  • The Association of Latino Pilots
  • The Professional Asian Pilots Association

United currently has about 12,000 pilots and Captains of United’s Boeing 787s and 777s can earn more than $350,000 per year. In addition, United pilots receive one of the highest 401(k) matches in the country – 16% of base pay.

United Aviate Academy expects to train at least 500 students annually as a part of United’s recruitment as the airline aims to hire at least 10,000 pilots by 2030. Aviation consultancy Oliver Wyman estimates a global pilot shortage of 34,000 pilots by 2025.

The first class of United Aviate Academy undergoes a one-year training program that prepares them for a career that reflects United’s high standard of professionalism and deep commitment to providing a safe, caring, reliable and efficient travel experience. After completing their training at the academy, students can build flying and leadership experience while working within the Aviate pilot development ecosystem at partner universities, professional flight training organizations and United Express carriers on their way to becoming United pilots.

“As a United pilot for over 32 years, it’s exciting to see these new students earn their wings and start their aviation careers, and I look forward to seeing them in the cockpit with me one day,” said United Chief Pilot Mary Ann Schaffer. “We need more pilots and a more diverse pool of young pilots, and United Aviate Academy will help us achieve both goals.”

United worked closely with multiple organizations, cities, and elected officials to help make the academy a reality for aspiring pilots who might not otherwise have pursued a career in aviation. The airline expresses its gratitude to: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and his office; the Arizona Commerce Authority; the City of Phoenix and mayor Kate Gallego; and the City of Goodyear and mayor Joe Pizzillo and the late mayor Georgia Heer.

United Aviate Academy

  • The 340,000-square-foot United Aviate Academy facility at Phoenix Goodyear Airport includes world-class amenities such as:
  • Leasing of a fleet of late-model Cirrus SR-20 series single-engine aircraft, featuring advanced safety features
  • Nearly 50,000 square meters of office space
  • Multiple aircraft hangars
  • Dorms for student housing with plenty of room for expansion
  • Proximity to many auxiliary airfields in the phoenix Surface
  • Favorable weather for flight training all year round

For more information about United Aviate Academy, visit unitedaviate.com/academy or @unitedaviate on Instagram. United Aviate Academy also hires certified flight instructors – you can read more about them here or apply here.

United next

  • United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today’s announcement, United recently:
  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft and investing in features such as larger overhead luggage compartments, backrest entertainment in every seat and the fastest available Wi-Fi in the industry.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 union jobs by 2026, including careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians and coordinators.
  • Announced that United will train approximately 5,000 pilots through the United Aviate Academy by 2030, with the target that at least half will be women and people of color.
  • Required that all U.S. workers receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 testing, and more on its mobile app and website.
  • Invested in emerging technologies designed to decarbonise air travel, such as an agreement to partner with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050, without relying on traditional carbon offsets.
  • No change fees on all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the US

About United

United’s common goal is “Connecting People. Uniting the World”. In 2019, United and United Express® airlines operated more than 1.7 million flights serving more than 162 million customers. United has the most extensive route network of the North American airlines, including hubs on the US mainland in Chicago, Denver, Houston, The Angels, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, DC For more information on how to join the United team, visit united.com/careers. Learn more about the company at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol “UAL”.

SOURCE United Airlines


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