United’s First Aviate Academy Class Nears Start Date

United Airlines’ Aviate Academy will reach a new milestone on December 6th. The carrier’s inaugural class of 30 students enrolled in the Aviate Academy will begin instruction on December 6th in Arizona. The first class is part of the airline’s push to fill its pilot ranks to help cushion the blow of the potential shortage of pilots over the next decade and give more people pathways into the aviation industry who do not come in with traditional backgrounds.

United Aviate
United Airlines will reach a new milestone with its Aviate Program on December 6th. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

United’s Aviate Academy to inaugurate classes on Monday

Starting on December 6th, 30 United Aviate Academy students will begin their studies in a new flight training academy. Located in Phoenix Goodyear Airport, the academy’s flight-training facility and a fleet of Cirrus aircraft will allow students to begin their path toward becoming a United Airlines pilot.

The first class has reached some remarkable diversity and inclusion goals. Of the first class, 80% are women or people of color who will undergo rigorous, year-long training to set them up for a career at United Airlines. The core of the training includes fundamental principles of flight while also pushing professionalism and deep commitments to safety in the skies. United is committed to top-notch training standards to ensure all its pilots meet the same safety and regulatory metrics to become a pilot. The airline will not be compromising its training.

United’s First Aviate Academy Class Nears Start Date
United Airlines’ Aviate Academy offers one of the more direct ways for aspiring pilots to be trained and work for an airline. Photo: Getty Images

United Airlines received over 7,500 applications for spots in the Aviate Academy. Of those applications, nearly 75% were from women or people of color. Applications came from across the United States.

Mary Ann Schaffer, United’s chief pilot and member of the United Aviate Academy board of directors, stated the following on the upcoming milestone:

“We are thrilled to welcome our first class of students to the academy’s new home at Phoenix Goodyear airport. The facility ensures we have the resources to expand our training capabilities and that the next generation of aviators will receive industry-leading training toward their goal of becoming a pilot for United Airlines.”

The Aviate training facility

Located at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport, United is leasing a 340,000 square-foot facility from the city of Phoenix. Here, United has set up its Avaiate Academy with resources, equipment, and accommodations to support pilot training. This facility was previously home to Lufthansa Aviation Training (LAT). United will sublease a part of the facility to LAT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United’s close partner in Europe, Lufthansa.

The training facility is well-equipped. United is leasing a fleet of late-model Cirrus SR-20 series single-engine aircraft for student training. The airline has secured nearly 50,000 square feet of office space and multiple aircraft hangars to support its training facility.

United’s First Aviate Academy Class Nears Start Date
United also has a fleet of Cirrus aircraft to support Aviate Academy training. Photo: United Airlines

The airport also has some other structural advantages. United has set up dormitory rooms for student housing. This area can also be expanded to support more students if needed. Phoenix Goodyear Airport is also close to many auxiliary airfields in the Phoenix area. A huge bonus for starting pilots is that the area has favorable weather for year-round flight training.

The goal is to continue to grow the Aviate program. United’s Aviate Academy expects to welcome between 25 and 50 new students each month. The current aim is to train at least 500 students yearly with a goal to have at least half of those trainees be women or people of color.

Creating pathways to working at United

United Airlines expects to hire 10,000 pilots by 2030. Between pilots needed to fly new aircraft deliveries and fill in positions that will be vacant due to mandatory retirements, the carrier has a lot of hiring it needs to accomplish in a job market where there are more positions than there are pilots.

Pilots will initially start flying for a regional airline before making their way to mainline aircraft at United Airlines. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

With the United Aviate Academy, the airline is creating new pathways for pilots who do not come from traditional pathways, like the Armed Forces or from private training schools. After completing training at the Academy, Aviate Academy students will supplement their training at partner universities, professional flight training organizations, and United Express carriers on the road to becoming a United pilot.

The Aviate Academy will be important for United Airlines to meet its staffing goal. It will not be the only way for pilots to work with United, but it will be one of the highlights of United’s goal to make the pilot field more accessible to people from different backgrounds.