United Airlines has pledged $1.2 million in scholarship fees to increase the diversity at its pilot training school. The United Aviate Academy will train 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with the aim that at least 50% of new students are women or people of color. Applications for the school are now open.
Training 5,000 pilots but the airline needs 10,000
In October 2019, United Airlines announced its new Aviate program to find and train a new generation of pilots. In February 2020, it announced it had bought a flight school to help the program. The airline said that around half of its pilots were due to retire over the coming decade. This fact, combined with the airline’s plans for growth, meant it would need around 10,000 new pilots soon. What better way to ensure you’ve got a steady stream of pilots than to train them?
Of course, COVID-19 meant the plans for the new flight school and partnership programs were put on hold. However, today the airline announced a new push for the Aviate program. The new program includes funding dedicated to including trainee pilots who need financial aid. There will also be funding dedicated to training women and people of color.
United is working with several organizations to help encourage diverse candidates, including the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies, the Latino Pilots Association, and the Professional Asian Pilots Association. United received an award from DiversityInc in 2019, naming the airline as one of the top 50 companies for diversity.
New enrolments with dedicated funding
In a statement to the airline’s website, it confirmed that at least half of the 5,000 new pilots will be women or people of color. The airline is working with its bank partner JPMorgan Chase to provide specific scholarships for anyone who cannot afford the training. United has committed $1.2 million, while JPMorgan Chase has matched this amount to be used to support women and people of color.
Sallie Mae, a banking partner, has also agreed to provide loans to ensure that anyone who wants to take part in the training doesn’t have to refuse a place solely based on financial reasons. The applications for places opened today, and the airline expects around 100 people to be enrolled in 2021. The first class of 20 pilots will begin studies in the fall of this year, with the class graduating in early 2022.
The Aviate program
United’s Aviate program is designed so that an aspiring pilot with absolutely no experience could become a licensed pilot within two months. The airline works with several partner flight schools and universities including, Delaware State University, Elizabeth City State University, and Hampton University.
The Aviate school accepts people with no experience who will receive all the support, teaching, and flying time they need to become licensed pilots. In addition, the airline also provides support for licensed commercial pilots already flying for regional partner airlines who want career advice and support.
Applications for the new class of pilots have now opened. If you want to apply, head to the official United Aviate website.
What do you think of United’s new diversity promise? Do you think the Aviate program will be a success? Let us know what you think in the comments.