United Airlines has signed an agreement to buy Westwind School of Aeronautics, a flight school located in Phoenix, Arizona. According to United, the purchase makes it the only major carrier in the U.S. to own a flight training academy. The school, which will be renamed United Aviate Academy, will be operated as an expansion of United’s Aviate pilot development and recruitment program.
“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 Aviate managing director Bebe O’Neil.
United expects about 300 students to graduate from the academy in its first full year of operation. The airline also announced that it is exploring ways to “reduce financial barriers” to joining the program, including plans to start a scholarship initiative focusing on women and minorities. United says it anticipates hiring more than 10,000 pilots by 2029.