United Airlines has created a new program with Metropolitan State University of Denver to identify talented student pilots and place them on a path to flying for United, the airline announced on Tuesday. Regional carriers have offered similar programs in recent years, but this will be the first time a major U.S. airline has established a partnership with a university aviation department, according to United. “The career path program helps us to operate our fleet efficiently and continue to provide great service to our customers,” said Capt. Mike McCasky, director of flight training for United, and a graduate of MSU Denver. “Students get a great start on their careers and the airline gets access to a talented pipeline of pilots.”
United will begin accepting applicants for consideration into the career-path program in August. To be considered for the interview process, students must have completed at least two semesters in the professional flight officer program, hold a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating, and maintain full-time status with a 3.0 cumulative GPA in aviation courses. The partnership doesn’t guarantee students a future job, but if they meet a checklist of requirements over several years, they will be in line for an opportunity. Among those requirements is working for a United Express partner, where they must meet service and performance requirements and accumulate flight hours before having an opportunity to fly for United. McCasky said the pilot shortage has not yet affected United, but it’s critical that the airline be proactive.