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Salukis join United Aviate

At a September 13 signing ceremony, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and United Airlines finalized a partnership aimed at providing SIU students the most secure and direct path to the United flight deck.

United Airlines pilots, who are also Southern Illinois University School of Aviation alumni, talk to students about their careers. Photo by Russell Bailey, courtesy of SIU Carbondale.

The Aviate program is United Airlines' "industry-leading pilot career development program offering aspiring and established pilots the most direct path to a United flight deck." Launched in 2019, one way this pilot recruitment program targets aspiring pilots is through regional partnerships with 13 flight schools and universities.

The most recent of these partnerships is between United and Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

"We are proud to welcome SIU to the United Aviate program as their longstanding history of attracting and developing skilled aviators incorporates well into our pilot recruitment strategy," said Michael Bonner, managing director of pilot strategy and Aviate at United. "Current and future SIU aviation students will benefit from this partnership in their journeys to becoming professional pilots."

One benefit of the partnership is the opportunity for students to build hours toward their restricted privileges airline transport pilot rating, which allows candidates to serve as a co-pilot until they hit the necessary 1,500 flight hours. Additionally, Aviate partnership beneficiaries are favored with industry connections, mentorships, and travel privileges.

"This partnership will be a boon for our students and serve to galvanize the already strong relationship that exists between United and the SIU School of Aviation," said José Ruiz, professor and School of Aviation interim director at SIU Carbondale. "We're proud to be a partner of Aviate, which will complement the excellent instruction and hands-on experiences our students receive."

United hopes to hire 10,000 pilots by 2030, a goal that is well in progress thanks to the Aviate program. In 2022 alone, the airline has hired more than 1,600 pilots.

Director of United Aviate and Pilot Strategy Perry Lewis, left, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane sign an agreement that will give SIU School of Aviation students an opportunity for an accelerated path to the United flight deck. Photo by Russell Bailey, courtesy of SIU Carbondale.

Lillian Geil

Digital Media Assistant Editor
Digital Media Assistant Editor Lillian Geil is a student pilot and a graduate of Columbia University who joined AOPA in 2021.
Topics: Aviation Education Programs, Career, Student

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