Did you know that becoming a pilot seems out of reach for many people? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 5.6% of pilots are women and 6% are people of color. Incredibly, obtaining a commercial pilot license in the United States can cost around $100,000. Becoming an airline pilot requires 1,500 flight hours, making these requirements a difficult commitment to fulfill.
Taking action, closing the gap and providing people with educational alternatives, United Airlines officially opened a flight academy – and 80% of students identified as women or people of color.
As the only major US airline to have a flight training school, United has officially opened the doors of the United Aviate Academy in a historic inaugural class of future pilots. The academy is part of the airline’s goal to hire at least 10,000 new pilots by 2030, or 5,000 former United pilots.
According to the educational institution, their unprecedented training program will dramatically expand access to a lucrative and rewarding career in aviation while meeting United’s world-class safety standards. United currently has around 12,000 drivers. United Boeing 787 and 777 captains can earn more than $350,000 a year. Additionally, United drivers receive one of the highest 401(k) matches in the country – 16% of base salary.
HOLA US! had the opportunity to visit the academy in Goodyear, Arizona and meet the CEO of United Scott Kirbyunited chief pilot Mary Ann Schafferas well as United Aviate Academy students and future pilots Jimena Perez Arroyo and Nathalie Villalpando.
According to Kirby and Schaffer, the academy is a great opportunity to diversify the field and help break down some of the barriers that Latino and Black communities face.
“One of the great things about UAA is that we can overcome the huge barriers to entry for women and people of color. It’s really about finding great people with drive, commitment and potential and give them the opportunity,” Kirby said. HELLO ! United States. “It gives me immense pride to think that what we are doing is making a difference. I often say we are going to build the biggest and best airline in aviation history. Yet even when I retire, I hope what people will say about me is that I made a difference in our diversity and sustainability efforts.
United Airlines CEO says corporate America talks about diversity without action; however, what he is doing is real and will have a positive impact on communities. “It’s real action. It’s going to make a difference not only in these people’s lives and in the lives of their families. These are people who I believe will give back to their communities, and that’s by giving people economic opportunities that we will achieve true equality in the country. These are economic opportunities. And that is what we are doing here today,” he said.
United Chief Pilot Mary Ann Schaffer said the program is a game-changer for the industry and she looks forward to the next generation of pilots. “It’s an exciting day. I’m so happy to be back here on campus to see the students who have already started, and I’m looking forward to the next class. I’ll be back and presenting the next lesson in February. This is a game-changer for the industry,” she said.