United Celebrates First Graduating Class of Flight Academy Pilots

United Airlines (UA) celebrated the first graduating class of its Aviate Academy at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona.



January 26, 2023

DALLAS — On Wednesday, United Airlines (UA) celebrated the first graduating class of its Aviate Academy at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona. The graduating class consisted of 51 students.

The new flight crew grads put the airline on the path towards training almost 5,000 new pilots at the academy by 2030. By the decade's end, the academy hopes to add 10,000 pilots.

The United Aviate Academy is in Phoenix, Arizona, and has 240 students enrolled in the program, 51 of which graduated on Wednesday. 80% of the 51 graduates are women and people of color. The Aviate Academy is the only wholly airline-owned flight school in the United States. 

On Wednesday, a ceremony was held at Phoenix Goodyear Airport to honor the academy's first graduates. In attendance were United CEO Scott Kirby and United COO Toby Enqvist. In the first year of operation at the academy, students have flown over two million miles and over 1,000 takeoffs and landings. The students have also earned over 250 aviation certificates. According to United, the academy has received over 22,000 applications this year. 

United Aviate Academy takes students with no flying experience who can receive their private pilot's license (PPL) in two months. After receiving their PPL, students can continue into the Aviate Program, which gives pilot training and is a pipeline into flying for United.

Most students in the United Aviate Academy fly for United's regional partner United Express. Within six years of graduation from the academy, they will be pilots for United. Students can become Technical Fleet Instructors at United or take leadership roles as Part 135 operators.


Comments from United Airlines CEO

United CEO Scott Kirby commented, "United is leading the industry in the training, recruitment, and hiring of the next generation of talented commercial pilots, and the progress we've made at United Aviate Academy after just one year is another example of an airline where good leads the way."

He added, "I'm so proud of this first class of graduates—they've taken an important first step in their career, and they reflect our commitment to hiring people who exceed the highest professional and safety standards. I look forward to eventually welcoming them to our United team, and I can't wait to see them fly our new United Next planes in the years to come."

Featured image: N12114 United Airlines Boeing 757-224 B752 JFK KJFK. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways