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United Aviate Academy is a flight training school that United Airlines opened in 2022. It provides aspiring pilots with comprehensive education and practical training to become airline professionals. United’s investment was made to ensure that it would have a steady roster of pilots. A goal of 5,000 pilots was set for 2030. They would all be guaranteed a job at United and 50% would represent women and people of color as part of an ongoing diversity initiative. This all sounds good in theory, but a thread on Reddit has made some rather bold accusations and describes many of its challenges.
So remember United’s “revolutionary” flight school The United Aviate Academy? Yeah well, it’s kind of an absolute dumpster fire.
What could go wrong when you put a $17 billion airline in charge of a large flight school? Well apparently literally everything.
The school is riddled with problems.
They have hundreds of people who have been accepted that are waiting for class dates but they are currently bringing in 10-15 students per month and even skipping some months.
They are incredibly behind on their training timeline. Everywhere they state that this is a 12-month program, 0-MEI, but in reality, people are taking over 18 months just to finish CFI.
Another example of training delays, people at the academy are currently taking over 5 months to finish their PPLs. Of a class of 16 that started Q1 2023, only 4 have taken their PPL check-ride as of the end of June.
Instructors are incredibly overloaded, some instructors have as many as 11 students, and remember, these are all full-time students. Students are promised 5 flights per week but are often capped at 2-4 because the instructors cannot legally fly enough.
speaking of overloaded instructors, management pushes CFIs to their limits but also watches their every move and any minor wrong step like flying to much with certain students has gotten CFIs fired.
People are having to wait up to a month in between certificates due to instructor overload.
They are not hiring their own graduates but are starting to hire externally.
Management is trying to hide all the problems. For example; they are having “graduation ceremonies” for those who finish CPL (even though the program doesn’t end until you finish all your CFI certificates) in order to make them look on time since people are taking 12-13 months just to finish CPL.
UAA fosters a culture of intimidation. Many students have been let go after speaking out or complaining to hire-ups for vague reasons, and therefore students currently at the school are too scared to speak out. School management constantly has all eyes and ears open for any sign of dissent or criticism and is looking over everyone’s shoulder.
Despite all these issues, United Aviate Academy management is currently having internal casting calls for a prime-time commercial that will be airing nationwide. I think that show’s where the school’s management’s priorities lie.
At this point, I am convinced that United doesn’t care about flight training at all and United Aviate Academy is just a poster child for its “good leads the way” marketing message because whenever they talk about the school they only talk about how many women and minorities are at the school but never discuss any actual flight training accomplishments or achievements.
I speak today on behalf of many UAA students who unfortunately cannot speak about this openly for the above-stated reasons. Hopefully, if someone is considering this school they will see this and think otherwise, and also maybe this info getting out there will foster some change at this school.”
This account is pretty damning and should make management look into what is going on with its pilot training. It seems the optics are more important than the substance and that’s a bit scary when it comes to training pilots who will literally have hundreds of lives in their hands each day.
Anthony’s Take: I sincerely hope that the allegations above are investigated and that this is just coming from someone who is a bit disgruntled versus being the widespread issue the post describes. It’s of the utmost importance that pilots get proper training and come out with the skills needed to safely fly commercial aircraft.
(Featured Image Credit: United Aviate Academy.)
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