United Airlines expanded its Aviate pilot program by signing a purchase agreement to become the only major U.S. carrier to own a flight training academy. The United Aviate Academy will give the airline more visibility and direction over the recruitment, development and training of future pilots, enabling United to increase the percentage of women and minorities who become pilots. United expects approximately 300 students to graduate from the United Aviate Academy in its first full year of operation.

The flight training academy – currently operating as Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix, Arizona, – will be an extension of the airline's Aviate program, a pilot development and recruitment program that offers aspiring aviators a direct path of becoming a United pilot. The airline anticipates hiring more than 10,000 pilots by 2029.

"We have developed the Aviate program in collaboration with the Air Line Pilots Association, International to have greater influence on the next generation of aviators at United," said Captain Bebe O'Neil, United's managing director of Aviate. "Launching our own academy provides us with the unique opportunity to not only ensure we maintain the ideal number of quality candidates within our pilot pipeline, but also play a significant role in recruiting, developing and welcoming those with diverse backgrounds to the United family."

Those who apply to Aviate and are successful in the selection process will receive a program acceptance job offer with United. Aviate also provides support and coaching for pilots to develop into leaders who exemplify the professionalism, level of excellence and commitment to providing safe, caring, dependable and efficient service that United expects from its pilots. Additionally, Aviate provides those who aspire to a career as a United captain with the most direct route to achieving that goal.

In addition to launching the flight academy, United plans to reduce financial barriers to joining the program, making the dream of becoming a United pilot even more accessible to more individuals. The carrier is currently engaging with financial institutions with the goal of making attractive financing terms – such as industry-tailored grace periods and competitive interest rates – available to qualified individuals. Additionally, United plans to launch a scholarship program specifically focused on encouraging women and minorities to consider joining the United family. The airline will provide more details regarding these financing options as they become available.

Aviate currently has 15 partners including FlightSafety International’s FlightSafety Academy, which was recently selected.