Delaware State University partners with United Airlines to train new pilots | State and region


Delaware State University (DSU) aviation graduates will have a direct path to becoming a pilot with a major airline through a new affiliate partnership between the university and United Airlines.

The university and United recently announced the new partnership at Delaware Airpark, home to DSU’s aviation program.

The partnership reflects United Airlines’ renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Through their Aviate Academy, the only flight school for a major US airline, United plans to train 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with the goal of at least 50% of them being women or people of color.

Aviate will work closely to build relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as another source of underrepresented pilots. Delaware State University was chosen as the first partner.

United also aims to hire more than 10,000 pilots over the next decade and have the largest fleet of jumbo jets in North America, providing new applicants with the opportunity to advance their careers within United Airlines.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in 2021 and beyond,” said United Airlines President Brett Hart.

“Inspired by Aviate’s motto, ‘Love to fly, born to lead,’ we look forward to working alongside our partners at Delaware State University, and we welcome the next generation of aviators to the role. piloting. “

For United Aviate Academy students in need of additional funding, United has partnered with Newark-based Sallie Mae to offer private student loans. The academy plans to enroll 100 students in 2021.

United has also pledged to fund $ 1.2 million in scholarships. The airline’s credit card partner JPMorgan Chase has also pledged $ 1.2 million to support women and people of color accepted into the academy.

“When a student graduates from the DSU aviation program with all of their FAA certifications and diploma, they usually leave via a flight instructor with us or elsewhere to get their 1000 hours,” said Michael Hales, Lt. -colonel and director of the retired US military. aviation programs in the state of Delaware.

“Once hired by a regional airline, they spend about two to three years there before moving to the rank of captain in that region,” he added. “They spend another seven years before they can get to United, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest or American Airlines. This also includes FedEx or UPS.

“Now, through this partnership, our students can graduate from our aviation program and instead of working for a major airline 10 years after graduation, they can now fly to United two to three. years after graduation, ”Hales said.

Delaware State University President Tony Allen said the goals of United Airlines and its aviation program reflected intentionality.

“When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, you can’t hope for better, you have to do better,” Allen said. “It starts with leadership and partnership. As the # 1 supplier of colored pilots in the country, we are proud of United’s leadership and excited about the partnership. “

The Delaware State Aviation Program offers a Bachelor of Science degree with two concentrations, Commercial Pilot and Aviation Management.

Students of the professional pilot track are left with six certifications: private, instrument, commercial, multiengine instructor, CFI (certified flight instructor) and CFII (certified flight instructor-instruments).

CFI allows participants to train students in single-engine and sometimes twin-engine aircraft. CFII allows them to train students for an instrument rating.

Most students get at least 350 hours by the end of their certificates – and if they apply themselves to teaching others in their final year, it can reach almost 1,000 hours.

The Aviation Management track prepares students for the roles of airline executives, managers and supervisors.

“Over four years, you’ll spend less here than anywhere else on the US East Coast learning how to be a commercial pilot,” Hales said.

“We also offer free discovery flights. We will take you flying on a plane with an instructor for 30-45 minutes just for the students to try out aviation and see if it’s something they might be interested in, ”he added. “About 90% of students [are] in my aviation program at DSU because Discovery Flight put them above the goal line.

Delaware State University has the largest fleet of aircraft of any HBCU with an aviation program. The university also has the lowest flight lab fees on the East Coast.

“As a program we were already recruiting our students, but now, through this partnership with United, students can get to a major airline much faster and that’s huge,” Hales said.

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