United Airlines launches recruitment drive to train women and people of colour as pilots

Helen Coffey
·2-min read
United Airlines is aiming to ‘diversify the cockpit' (Getty Images)
United Airlines is aiming to ‘diversify the cockpit' (Getty Images)

A US airline has launched a recruitment drive aimed at “diversifying the cockpit” by recruiting and training women and people of colour as pilots.

United Airlines plans to train up 10,000 pilots for 2030, half of which (5,000) will be female and/or people of colour recruits.

The United Aviate Academy is currently accepting applications on its website, which states: “Today, United has one of the most diverse pilot populations of any US carrier with nearly 20 per cent of our pilot group made up of women and people of colour.

“We are working toward raising that number even higher by partnering with diversity-led organisations and continuing to remove gender and racial barriers.

“And we’re going one step further with plans for 50 per cent of United Aviate Academy students being women and people of colour to ensure our students reflect the diversity of the customers and communities we serve.”

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The academy has also partnered with JPMorgan Chase to offer $2.4m in financial aid to fund candidates’ scholarships and remove financial barriers to pilot training.

“I've had the pleasure of flying the Boeing 737, the Boeing 777 and now the Boeing 787,” said United Airlines pilot Gabrielle Harding, who said her interest in aviation was sparked and encouraged while growing up in Detroit.

Adding that many minorities are never exposed to the industry and so don’t consider a career in flying, she said: “The fact that United has decided to reach out and diversify the cockpit more is wonderful considering the cities in which United serves.

“They are cosmopolitan diverse urban cities.”

It follows the news that more than half of the world’s pilots are no longer flying, as the Covid-19 pandemic continue to decimate the travel industry.

Just 43 per cent of the world’s pilots are still flying for a living, according to a survey published in January 2021 by aviation publisher FlightGlobal and GOOSE Recruitment.

The pair polled 2,600 flight crew around the world.

Of that number, 30 per cent said they were unemployed. Another 17 per cent were furloughed, 6 per cent were still employed in aviation, and 4 per cent were working in another industry entirely.