United Airlines on Wednesday inaugurated the expansion of its pilot training center in Denver. The carrier will invest $100 million in the project as it seeks to add six more simulators to its offerings. With plans to hire 10,000 pilots by 2030, having more training facilities will be crucial for United.
Ready to build
On Wednesday, United announced plans to construct a four-story building at the Denver training campus, with construction expected to begin soon, according to The Colorado Sun. Speaking to CNBC, United’s general manager for the flight training center, Marc Champion, said the expansion has been underway for about a year.
The new facility will contain six simulators, for the Boeing 737 MAX, the newly ordered A321neo and the 787, with six more to be added after initial completion. Denver is also home to 39 full-motion simulators with 15 stationary training devices. Overall, this facility is expected to increase its capacity by 45% over the next few years, with a target of 52 full-motion training machines and 28 stationary training machines.
United has invested hundreds of millions in its Denver campus to prepare for an increase in the number of pilots in training. Photo: Getty Images
The new building could be open before the end of 2023, according to CNBC. Denver is United’s only driver training center and its roots date back to the 1970s. The campus has grown into a huge space since then, occupying 23 acres in the city and a home for every United driver over the years.
Facing the shortage
United expect to need 10,000 more drivers by 2030 and competition for them will be fierce. To meet this challenge, the Chicago-based carrier has taken a series of measures. Most notable is the United Aviate Academy, the new project which will see pilots begin their flight journey with the school and end up with a job with United or its partner airlines.
United hopes Aviate will provide 50% of the pilot jobs it needs by 2030, an ambitious target. However, CEO Scott Kirby is confident his airline can retain its pilots and add more, thanks to the prevailing corporate culture. Aviate graduates will also one day train at United’s facilities in Denver.
In the United States, airlines are trying hard to create networks to pack pilots in early. Photo: United Airlines
As airlines around the world face post-COVID staffing shortages, United hopes its decision not to cut its fleet and too many crew jobs will deliver better results through the summer. However, with competition high and the Aviate program just getting started, we will be watching United’s progress closely.
To see this year
In 2022 alone, United hope to welcome 2,000 drivers as part of a big capacity boost. With over 300 aircraft on order, the pilots will be a deciding factor in whether the carrier will be able to meet its long-term goals post-COVID.
What do you think of United’s decision to expand their in-house driver training facilities? Let us know in the comments!
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