United Aviate Academy's inaugural class of pilots has officially graduated, an important step towards training the next generation of talented, qualified, and motivated aviators. The inaugural graduating class includes 51 students – with nearly 80% being women or people of color – marking the next step towards the airline's goal to train about 5,000 new pilots at the school by 2030, with the added goal of at least half women or people of color. United CEO Scott Kirby and United COO Toby Enqvist honored the first class of graduates at a ceremony at the Phoenix Goodyear Airport.
The recruitment and hiring of pilots is a priority at United and the academy is an example of the long-term investments in infrastructure, training, and aircraft the airline has made in the past few years. According to the airline, just last month, United purchased more widebodies than any U.S. airline in history and announced it's now the largest carrier across both the Pacific and Atlantic. To support that growth, United hired about 2,400 pilots in 2022 and plans to hire another 2,500 this year. United intends to add at least 10,000 pilots by the end of this decade.
United Aviate Academy graduates can continue to build flight time and leadership experience while continuing within the United Aviate pilot career development program's ecosystem. Some graduates will work as Certified Flight Instructors at the academy to continue accruing the 1,500 required flying hours – a common industry practice for aspiring pilots – while others will build experience at participating flight schools or universities, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University and Hampton University. The United Aviate program then encourages graduates to eventually fly for a United Express carrier, take on leadership roles at an Aviate participating Part 135 operator, or become a Fleet Technical Instructor at United to complete their training. Aviate participants can expect to become a United pilot within about six years of graduating from United Aviate Academy.