United Airlines has opened its flight training school, United Aviate Academy, to bring out new pilots with a view to mainly empower women and people of color.
The institute’s first class of students is 80 percent women or people of color. This outpaces the airline’s earlier goal to train about 5,000 new pilots at the school by 2030 with at least half being women or people of color.
In a statement, the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school said the Academy expects to train at least 500 students annually.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 5.6 percent of pilots are women and 6 percent are people of color. Earning a commercial pilot’s license in the U.S. can cost about $100,000, while an Airline Transport Pilot requires 1,500 hours of flight time.
United has teamed with its credit card partner, JPMorgan Chase & Co., to renew last year’s commitment to fund nearly $2.4 million in scholarships to support those who are accepted to the Academy.
Many organizations, including the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies, the Latino Pilots Association and the Professional Asian Pilots Association, help the company select the applicants to receive the scholarships and grants funded by United and JPMorgan Chase.
United Aviate Academy’s first class is taking a year-long training program. Following this, they can work within the Aviate pilot development ecosystem at partner universities, professional flight training organizations and United Express carriers on their way to becoming United pilots.
The 340,000 square-foot United Aviate Academy facility at Phoenix Goodyear Airport has leased a fleet of late-model Cirrus SR-20 series single-engine aircraft, which feature advanced safety characteristics. The academy has nearly 50,000 square feet of office space, and multiple aircraft hangars.
United currently has about 12,000 pilots. Captains of United’s Boeing 787s and 777s can earn more than $350,000 per year.
Last summer, the company had launched its United Next strategy to introduce more than 500 new, narrow-body aircraft into its fleet to match the anticipated resurgence in air travel. United plans to hire at least 10,000 new pilots by 2030 to meet this need with about 5,000 of those coming from United Aviate Academy.
According to aviation consulting firm Oliver Wyman, a worldwide pilot shortage of 34,000 aviators is expected by 2025.
United has recently announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
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