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United Airlines digs into training market

United Airlines is taking a more hands-on approach to solving the pilot shortage, announcing a partnership with ATP and the purchase of an Arizona flight school.

United Airlines announced a partnership with ATP Flight School and the purchase of Phoenix-based Westwind School of Aeronautics. Photo courtesy of ATP and United Airlines.

ATP Flight School and United Airlines are partnering to provide aspiring airline pilots with training and a direct route to a United flight deck, ATP announced February 5. United and ATP’s Aviate partnership combines ATP’s accelerated fixed-cost pilot training with milestones to advance pilots toward a career with United.

“ATP Flight School is the nation’s largest flight school and leader in airline-oriented flight training,” the company said. “Students in ATP’s Airline Career Pilot Program earn pilot certification in just nine months and can apply to United Aviate early during their training. After graduating, participants in Aviate take advantage of ATP’s guaranteed flight instructor job, allowing them to build flight experience and progress toward United. Once meeting the flight hour requirements, pilots first fly for a United Express carrier. Then, after satisfying Aviate program requirements, they are eligible to transition to United Airlines as a first officer without any additional interviewing required.”

“ATP represents the industry’s best, who are resolute in providing students with the most efficient path to a successful airline pilot career,” said Michael Arnold, marketing director for ATP Flight School. “Sharing the same passion for excellence, high standards, and delivering on our commitments to our customers, we are proud to partner with United Airlines to advance the careers of our graduates and develop the nation's next generation of professional pilots.”

United also announced on February 5 that it purchased Westwind School of Aeronautics, a Phoenix-based fight training academy that will provide the air carrier with an immediate influx of future pilots, flight instructors, and a robust flight training curriculum.

The Arizona flight training academy will be folded into the airline’s Aviate program as United seeks to hire more than 10,000 pilots by 2029.

“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,” said United Airlines Capt. Bebe O’Neil, the Aviate program managing director.

United also hinted that it would soon launch initiatives to help “reduce financial barriers” to those seeking career pilot positions, including a scholarship program “specifically focused on encouraging women and minorities.”

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
Topics: Career, Aviation Education Programs

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