Kudos: United Airlines Sets New Diversity Goal For Pilots

Filed Under: United

Well done, United Airlines, for this initiative!

United will train 50% women and minority pilots

United Airlines is the only major US airline to own a flight school, and the airline is beginning to accept new applications as of today as it embarks on a plan to train 5,000 new pilots by 2030 (upon completion of the program, pilots are guaranteed a job with United).

That’s cool in and of itself, as we see how the industry expects there to be so much demand for pilots in the coming years. What’s even cooler is that United is setting a goal of having at least half of those pilots be women and people of color.

Backed by scholarship commitments from United Airlines and JP Morgan Chase, United Aviate Academy will create opportunities for thousands of students to pursue a career in commercial aviation. United has initially committed to providing $1.2 million in scholarships, while JP Morgan Chase has also committed to providing $1.2 million in scholarships. While that’s great, that ultimately won’t go that far, given how expensive flight training is.

On top of that, United is partnering with Sallie Mae to offer private student loans, ensuring that no highly-qualified and highly-motivated candidate will be turned away because they can’t afford to enroll.

United Aviate Academy expects to enroll 100 students in 2021.

This is a fantastic initiative

Just to show why this is needed, a mere 5% of airline pilots in the US are women. Even more jarring is that just over 1% of airline captains are female, meaning a vast majority of female pilots are first officers.

So it shows you that progress is being made (in the sense that there are more entry level pilots than senior pilots who are female), but it also shows you how much more work there is to be done.

The percentage of US airline pilots who are people of color is even smaller. And perhaps the most shocking statistic of all is that there are fewer than 150 Black female pilots at US airlines.

Bottom line

Huge respect to United Airlines for setting a goal of training 5,000 pilots by 2030 through its flight academy, and making half of those pilots either women or people of color.

While diversity is improving in many areas, airline flight decks are definitely lagging. This largely comes down to how expensive it is to train to become a pilot, putting many people at a disadvantage. At least on a surface level United’s newest initiative intends to address that.

I look forward to the day where there’s no longer novelty to having a pilot who is female or a person of color.

  1. This is a GREAT initiative! And about time.
    And anticipating the vile comments that will inevitably come up: like most diversity initiatives, it’s not about hiring a woman or POC over a white male solely based on diversity criteria, it’s about expanding a pool of candidates to people that would otherwise not even have considered that career path because of the crazy costs.

  2. As long as they’re qualified and the bar has not been lowered to accommodate political virtual-signaling, fine with me.
    Pilots, soldiers, physicians…
    There are some fields of work where high standards of skill and a meritocracy should not be compromised.

  3. Yawn. Should get the best men for the job regardless of who they are.
    I don’t think flying is suitable for mothers of young children given the extended periods of time away from home.

  4. When you were on your nightmare Royal Jordanian flight a few years back, would you have taken comfort the fact the airline had diversity goals in its pilot training program or would it have made you feel better to know the airline only hired pilots with the most flying skill, while totally blind to race, sex or creed?

  5. I always love it when a company sets a limit on the number of miniorities they can hire. And apparently women and people of color are the only minorities — guess the LGBTQIA+ representation can sit this one out.

    “When there are 9” – RBG

  6. @Ben Dover LOL…good one! I thought for a second you were serious but you are obviously just making a joke. 🙂

  7. Just wondering how many of the boardingarea bloggers are Male, Female, Trans, Men of Color, Women of Color, Trans of Color, Men from different region, Women from different region, Trans from different region, Men from different religion, Women from different religion and Trans from different Region. How many of those are handicapped or those with permanent disadvantage(s).

  8. Who cares? Just hire the most qualified people. I have no interest in the skin color, gender or orientation of the pilots who are flying the plane I am on. I only want them to get me there safely.

    I will never understand why liberals are so fixated on externals rather than on the content of people’s character

  9. I rather fly on an airline that hires the best pilot regardless of irrelevant factor to their job such as race, gender, sexual preference or what they like for breakfast.

  10. I understand this is well-intentioned but are women and POC typically turned away at flight school or are current pilot demographics reflective of the population’s desire for that career? Will white males be discriminated against based on their gender and color of their skin?

    Nurse Practitioners are over 90% female – are special programs “needed” to attract more males to that profession and make “progress”? Law enforcement is only about 13% female – do we need “progress” there too?

    I would hope most of us welcome all genders and races as pilots, but programs like this are misguided. While discrimination is widely accepted, encouraged, and applauded for scholarships and school admission in the US, this program could even be illegal as you’re essentially being hired.

  11. I have some problems with quota being mentioned. I am very much in favor of the best person available getting the job.

    Putting quota on minorities or women or other “special” groups – in my opinion – is always a bit odd. By already reserving 50% of the spots available for training it implies that here different measures will apply – for that 50% not the best person will be chosen but only the best out of the group women & people of color.

    Shouldn’t it be the goal to have 100% of training spots filled with the 5000 best-qualifying persons, not looking at their sex or skin color?

    Why just not ask about sex or skin color on your application form?

  12. As someone with zero knowledge of the pilot hiring/experience process – I am curious – do potential pilots look forward to working for United? Or do a lot of people go through this program, get a job with United, and then immediately apply to other airlines/hope they are poached? Kind of like going to through an investment banking program at say, Bank of America, and trying to be poached by a PE firm in a couple of years.

  13. @David , that’s literally what they are doing. Hiring the most qualified people by expanding the pool of people to choose from. Your response assumes that by expanding the pool of candidates to include more women and POC, they are diluting the qualifications of the pool.

    Liberals are interested in the content of people’s character. It’s your assumption that hiring women and POCs means NOT focusing on character and qualifications.

  14. I think the bigger issue is that this is a goal set for 2030. This is united after all, who really thinks they know what they’re doing 18 months out let alone 9 years?

  15. “People of color” is a very racist and offensive term to describe people of race other than Caucasian / white.

    Is “white” not a color? Is “white” colorless?

    Why is “white” so special that it needs to stand out as not a skin color while people with other skin colors are grouped collectively as “people of color”?

    It is extremely patronizing to refer to anyone who is not white as “person of color”.

    Disclaimer: I’m Asian.

  16. As someone (white male) who has hired people for an industry (automotive) that has historically been dominated by white males I have always made an effort to seek out candidates with non stereotypical backgrounds. No lower of standards, no expectations to hire anyone “just because,” nor was anyone turned down in place of someone just to make thinks look better. The idea is to allow talent to develop equally especially when circumstances often give people significant advantages or disadvantages. You can hire an entire fleet of white male pilots that are all highly trained, competent, have good character, and would do their jobs effectively and justify each hire on an individual basis. But that is not the point. Some industries/occupations will naturally tend to attract certain types of people and that is okay if it is the natural course of things. Anyone that thinks that United will force 50% of their flight decks to be occupied by women who are not qualified is not being serious. If a flood of women applicants occur with this program both of these things will happen: 1) Female candidates who can’t cut it will fall out of the program as would their male counterparts. 2) Well qualified female candidates will advance and become pilots as would their male counterparts. The final numbers will speak for themselves. Talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not.

  17. @ Chas — I wouldn’t have cared what sex or race the pilots were, as long as the airline had high safety standards, and the pilots in control had passed all tests.

  18. @ Milo — Perhaps it’s a strange term, but that’s just the commonly accepted phrase. If you think it’s racist and offensive then unfortunately that’s above my pay grade…

  19. @ Peter — Generally the “dream” for pilots is to work for one of the major carriers, especially the “big three.” Historically non-military pilots have often gone to regional airlines until they could land a job at one of the majors. Once at one of the majors, pilots rarely jump ship, since it’s all about seniority, and you lose that when you switch airlines.

  20. @ DO — I’m just curious, how do you judge the “best” people to enter a pilot training program? Keep in mind these people will be trained from early on and until they’re ready to be airline pilots. Highest GPA? Most extracurriculars? Give them an IQ test? Most job experience not being a pilot?

    That’s the thing here, it’s not like this is 50% of the pilots that United is hiring altogether, since the airline also hires through other sources. But the whole concept of only getting the “best” people to enter a training program is questionable to me.

  21. @ David — Many of the “best” candidates probably have been excluded historically since they couldn’t afford to go to flight school and never had the opportunities. Becoming a pilot isn’t cheap (if you don’t go the military route), so historically airlines have probably gotten the most well-off candidates, rather than the best.

  22. By 2030? Will those minorities and women pilots be trained to operate United’s future fleet of 200 electric air taxis?

  23. Nothing like selecting the best for the job by using their sex and skin color as primary criteria.

    I feel like the dream of all the woke people, is to go back to 1950s race based everything.
    I can’t believe what I read these days.

    Why are we judging people based on their sex, sexual orientation and skin color???????

  24. Not sure why they feel the need to automatically deny white men half the slots in their flight school for the next decade just because of their gender and race. Are they really hiring the most qualified people when they have arbitrary quotas like that? I don’t have an issue with economic assistance in terms of scholarships (which helps remove one of the main barriers) or trying to create a more diverse work force, but to just deny people 50% of the flight school slots for a decade purely because they are not the right gender/race is really going too far.

  25. I think most folks are making stupid comments regarding qualifications. As Ben said these folks will be trained and then they will compete for the positions. But without offering opportunities to minorities you will never know how good they are.

    If you see the technology and pharma companies most scientists and engineers are non white although the CEOs tend to white and clueless and connected. So if the minorities can do those jobs they can surely fly the plane that they designed.

    Only reason most CEOs are white is because of lack of trust in minorities. Do you really think it requires any brains to be a CEO. It’s a stupidest and easiest job in the world as long as you can BS!

  26. Note to myself: Set all US Airlines on my personal blacklist for sacrificing safety to reach some arbitrary ‘diversity’ goals.

  27. @Bill Oh please, there are way more people able to competently fly a plane than there are positions in flight school. I am no fan of United but they are doing good in this instance in trying to make allowances for decreased opportunities among some classes of people.

  28. Orchestras used to “hire the best man for the job”, regardless of gender/minority status, and that always ended up being overwhelmingly white men. Then they started doing auditions behind curtains so the hiring committees could only hear them play and knew nothing about the person otherwise, and when they started judging them based solely on their playing, suddenly the best “man” for the job largely started being minorities and not white men. So, let’s maybe do away with the “best man for the job” mentality and realize that white men shouldn’t be the default.

  29. Being white is being the minority nowadays. Only 8% of the world population are white.

    Framing it the other way is turning reality around.

  30. @MrChu I agree with your first paragraph…well said. I think you are off with the rest of your comment. While CEO’s can certainly be clueless at times, I would disagree it is an easy job for most.

  31. The US screams to stop fixating on gender and race… And yet, we continue to fixate on gender and race?!?! As usual, the push is for whatever satisfies the narrative of those that scream and cry the loudest.

  32. @Max Does United recruit internationally for its’ school? And please do stop flying the US airlines…more upgrades and room for the rest of us.

  33. @Mr. Obvious That is not what the US screams…that is your interpretation of the issue.

  34. @Keith. Thanks! I didn’t mean to say the CEO job is easy. It’s that it doesn’t require much brains. Rather fortitude and street smarts are the needed qualities!

  35. As a UA pilot I don’t like seeing stuff like this that targets certain demographics just to be “diverse”. Just hire the best candidates regardless of their gender, skin color or sexual orientation. Our customers deserve the best pilots possible.

  36. Total idiocy. “Diversity” requirements are nothing but virtue signaling and identity politics in disguise, saying in effect that gender and race are more important than qualification and expertise. It’s also a form of discrimination.

    So what if, say, 70% of new pilot applicants are white males, and 30% are women and minorities. Let’s say half of both these groups are qualified, and half are unqualified or incompetent.

    Let’s say, hypothetically, United is looking for 50 pilots and there are 100 candidates–70 white males, 30 women and minorities. Of these, 35 of the white males are qualified, 15 of the women and minorities are qualified.

    By the new rules, United would ram through the hiring of 25 women and minorities–including 10 that are insufficiently qualified–discriminating against more qualified white males, just to fill their stupid quotas.

    Sometimes I wonder whether OMAAT is really a travel blog or rather a platform for the propagation of leftist ideology.

  37. It’s so sad that all hiring in the world today is based off of skin color and gender instead of qualifications. I’m all for incentivizing minorities to pursue careers in aviation but setting arbitrary numbers like 50% only leads to hiring based upon skin color and gender instead of piloting skills. When I get on an airplane I don’t care if my pilot is male, female, cat, dog, white black, green or blue I want me and my family to be transported safely, but a competent pilot staff, not one that was thrown together based off skin color and gender alone.

  38. I had a Black woman in the cockpit of a flight I was on last week. Not sure if she was captain or FO, but apparently she is quite an anomaly. The fact that she is only 1 of 150 in the United States is just disgusting.

    Good for her, and good for United for making this announcement.

  39. Yes definitely the sex and skin color of the person flying the plane is the most important criteria. Definitely not experience or qualifications…

    I fear there will be no more Sully Sullenbergers still flying when the next US Airways 1549 happens. But, hey, at least the crew will be diverse!

  40. People used to joke if they want a heart surgeon or a commercial pilot who understands his craft or has been selected by gender, race, sexual orientation… and this is becoming reality now. I used to fly UA every once in a while when convenient but this is a policy I do not support and will stop flying them in the future.

  41. This could be potentially bad and unsafe. 50% women and minorities?

    To make numbers round, say there are 100 pilot slots. If that is the case, the target is 50 women and minorities. It cannot be 50 minority men because that would not improve the 1% women captain statistics. Let’s say it’s 25 women and 25 minorities, at least. (A woman minority could count as one of the two).

    What if there are only 25 minority applicants? Take them all, qualified or not qualified?

    What if there are 30 women applicants? Take 25 out of 30 but take 50 out of 500 men?

    No, establish valid qualifications that a pilot should have and then choose the best person. At most, have mentors to ask the women or minorities (or men), if they want a mentor.

  42. Wow, A LOT of people on this board sure do equate “best person for the job” with “best white man for the job.”

    The point is that by leaving out entire groups of people, UA and other airlines actually right now maybe AREN’T getting the best people for job. So it takes extra effort to identify a large pool of talent, recruit them and train them.

    This isn’t a quota where UA is saying they will hire women and people of color regardless of qualifications to hit a number. It is a diversity goal for a workforce, and it takes investment because you need to work extra hard and identify exponentially more potential recruits from underrepresented groups who have not had access to the opportunity.

    The point is that if they just put out a call for pilots, the people who will respond, apply, and be hired are the same people. Mostly white men. And who’s to say they’re actually the most qualified? UA is missing out on an entire pool of qualified pilots by NOT investing the time and money to build a more diverse talent pool.

  43. This is awesome! Do you think United will do the same for flight attendants? I think less than 50% of flight attendants are male so perhaps they can boost the numbers of male flight attendants too.

  44. Lot of commenters here likely reflect their Republican leadership representing them in Congress – middle aged to old, white, stuck in the past and liking it that way

  45. @DMNYC – here here…

    “The idea is to allow talent to develop equally especially when circumstances often give people significant advantages or disadvantages.”

  46. Until we stop focusing on a person’s skin color, sexual orientation, and their genitalia, we’ll never come close to equality. But let’s be honest, those pushing this are not interested in being equal.

  47. Curious how the NTSB will try to frame it when the first accidents with loss of lives resulting from this policy will happen…

    … and what will be written on the gravestones of the death? ‘In artificial diversity™ we trust’ or ‘proudly died on a flight that hit the diversity quota’ or ‘better death than racist™’.

  48. @Max – so a more diverse (note: still fully trained) pilot workforce equals a more deadly one? SMFH.

  49. @UA-NYC
    Let’s be real, in order to achieve the ‘absolutely necessary™’ diversity quota, the bar will be lowered one way or another. Even if not explicitly on paper – you can bet that instructors will implicitly be pressured to help achieving the quota.

    Just look at the Boeing website – you will see that they care 100x times more about showing off their ‘diverse’ workforce instead of their commitment to build safe airplanes. No wonder the 737MAX disaster has happened.

    Only solution to all this will be fully autonomous planes without any pilots at all.

  50. @Max Oh please. We are talking about flying jets. There are way more people able to fly safely than there are positions in flight school.

    Boeing…WTF does that have to do with it? Ridiculous.

  51. Most who say diversity is good don’t seem to understand that we cannot really include diversity in real life? It will go straight against the laws. What happens when a pilot (men or women of color) decide to quit the jobs. Are you going to advertise the position for women or men who is NOT a white?
    When you focus too much on diversity, you lose the talent and don’t forget, a pilot literally carries the life of those in the flight.

    I’ll fly an airline who has most talented pilots vs those with diversity.

    P.S., I’m not White and I’m from a third world country.

  52. “Nurse Practitioners are over 90% female – are special programs “needed” to attract more males to that profession and make “progress”? Law enforcement is only about 13% female – do we need “progress” there too?”

    @Sel,D Actually we do need ways to encourage men to become nurses without fear of ridicule which is why I imagine many do not- a societal attitude shift actually does need to happen. Same with law enforcement- we should encourage more women to join law enforcement but I think many don’t, because they worry it’s just a boys club

  53. @kq747, NBA consists 75% of black players. Should we include diversity there too and spoil the sports? Why do you want to encourage or discourage others to do anything? Why don’t you leave it to that particular individual to decide what he or she or they want to do for themselves?

  54. According to racial equality activist Richard Lapchick, the NBA in 2020 was composed of 74.2 percent black players, 16.9 percent white players, 2.2 percent Latino players of any race, and 0.4 percent Asian players. There were 6.3 percent of the players classified as “other” races.

    Why shouldn’t the NBA abide by such 50/50 requirements? Oh, that’s right – doesn’t fit the liberal narrative. It’s a silly example, and I for one don’t care what the NBA does, but let’s stop pointing fingers at some, and not at all!!

  55. Can’t help but think there’s about a .95 or so correlation with commenters who say “diversity means hiring less competent pilots and making us unsafe” with commenters supporting voter suppression (targeting people of color) at the state level…hmmmm why is that….

  56. Oh, and you idiotic NBA trolls…you realize the league was 100% white mid-20th century, right? Until (wait for it) they encouraged and facilitated diversity.

  57. @ Milo, @ Ben I don’t think Milo was out to criticize you using the PoC term, but he is absolutely right. The pc crowd really messed up big time coining this stupid, inappropriate expression.
    My color is white, by the way.

  58. Does anyone have diversity figures for military pilots given that many commercial pilots began their careers there? Might that account for far fewer females?

  59. Alan – A slightly higher percentage (6.8%) of US military pilots are female, as compared to the 5% figure Lucky provides for US airline pilots. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article244278472.html

    This is particularly interesting, given the barriers to entrance US military equipment poses for many women. https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2020/08/19/to-get-more-female-pilots-the-air-force-is-changing-the-way-it-designs-weapons/

  60. Having been in both military and civilian aviation for many years, and seeing many press release lies with my own eyes, I have learned to never believe what I read in the news about women in the military or aviation. Sure, some of it is true (none of it is ever bad), but most is just virtue signalling BS. Here’s a great example from Norway, where the Norwegian navy bragged that 4 out of 5 navigators on one of its newest frigates (dubbed “unsinkable”) were women. Until they collided with a tanker and then ran it aground and totaled it, costing the entire annual budget.


    Here’s the money quote: “Sound recordings and radar logs have revealed crude, almost incomprehensible, human errors made by the crew. According to experienced naval officers, the mistakes make the crew look amateurs. This, too, seems to have supported the claim of sceptics who have wondered about the role of women in armed forces.”

  61. Would any of you pay more to fly a specific airline that had a more diverse group of pilots?
    Personally it’s not important to me but I’m curious if some people would actually pay more. If so, then maybe United has done a marketing study and believes this will improve their business.

  62. @UA-NYC, What’s stopping you from hiring the best out of any race/religion/gender/sexual orientation etc RIGHT NOW? Is there any law or rule that I’m unaware that one cannot hire anyone other than white or does it say this many percent have to be white?

    I’m brown and came from a third world country where 75% do not eat 3 meals a day and 80% did not have access to toilet. I support those who have the best skills to get the job. Its not the role of the government to take care of you and raise you. Government can only provide a safe and secure environment for you to grow as you want.

    Want to be a pilot, work hard for it. Hard working individuals who came from third world countries, did not have enough clothing or foods or best education while growing up, yet their hard work made them what they are today. Not their skin color or their sexual orientation or the religion that they practice. Stop believing in these political statement who create problem even when there exists none. Start believing in yourself and work hard towards your dream.

  63. See how this has worked out down in South Africa, not too well! Equality of opportunity absolutely, equality of outcome not so much…….. The output from the training department should be solely on merit and ability regardless of race…. should a certain races have lower standards for V1 cuts? Can we agree on that?

  64. Back in the day when I was a hiring manager, I had two basic qualifications for a candidate 1) do they know the job and are able to perform it and 2) will this hire positively affect the chemistry of my group. I ended up 50% Minority staff. Qualified candidates are out there. I would really wish that along with diversity they would also have an outreach for aspiring pilots that are disadvantaged regardless of what box is checked.

  65. What is wrong with some people on this forum? Wanting to hire pilots from certain groups of society, is just an attempt to try & reflect society.Why or how any of you associate that with a lowering of standards is beyond me! Do you really think United would hire any sub standard pilot??? It’s just too easy for too many of you to want to protect the status quo. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot?Do you all think that the extremely low numbers of minority group pilots are there ,because there were thousands of qualified minority pilots applying for jobs,but they were deemed unsuitable??? United are trying to open doors to people who ,maybe would otherwise not think of a career in aviation. That doesn’t dilute standards,because regardless of intentions,if they don’t make the grade,they won’t be hired,just like any white man who doesn’t make the grade.

    Remember the Black women who worked for Nasa on the Space program,who nobody knew existed until the movie was made about their efforts?Any dilution of standards there?

    So in summary, no need to panic guys,planes will not be falling out of the sky because United offered a training slot to a Transgendered,lesbian gay black women.

  66. Who the heck cares?

    If the staff of an airline is all white, all men, and all middle-upper class, but they’re the best the airline can find, so be it. Same goes for all jobs in all industries, the media landscape, and leadership roles in business, society, and politics.

  67. I’ve seen a lot of comments related to how positive United’s initiative is but I have yet to see one comment that anyone would be willing to pay more for the privilege of flying a more diverse airline.

  68. @Blackhill When I say encourage I do not mean force but rather remove obstacles for groups that have historically not had the same level of access or opportunity including- to use your example- removing the social social stigma for males entering the nursing profession. I don’t support having to “fill a quota” but I am fully supportive of professions being open, accessible, and diversified.

  69. Why do so many people equate “diversity goal” with an implied “settling for so-and-so skills?” I see this merely as, “If I have two people presenting comparable skills, I will try to recruit someone to increase my diversity” and not as ” I will recruit someone diverse even if they don’t have the skill.”
    Why is there even an insinuation that pledging to increase diversity means sacrificing quality? The not-so latent racism/sexism in this thread is beyond disgusting.

  70. You do understand that you have to meet certain criteria and pass myriad exams and tests and countless simulator hours before you are handed the controls, right? To just assume United will bend these rules to be “politically correct” shows your inherent racist streak. Disgusting.

  71. Embarrassing…..As a western-educated, non-Caucasian, whose flights are captained mostly by other non-Caucasians, I get quite embarrassed (on behalf of white people!!!) when I see this. It’s rather patronizing, don’t you see? It’s also American corporate cynicism on full display. I gather we’re supposed to get all teary-eyed and wistful at this announcement….but I just see red!

  72. When someone is favored, someone else is dis-favored. It’s wrong every time it’s tried.

  73. Back in late 80s United was sued for violating an EEOC agreement to hire more women and minorities. After that lawsuit the number on women and minorities increased 2 fold at least. If you worked at UAL as a pilot you can tell when it happened because the seniority list suddenly has a large percentage of women which would be unusual for the time. They were in fact hired at the lowest minimum FAA requirement qualifications but it checked the box. Meanwhile male aviators who had years of prior experience and thousands of more flying hours in the military or commuters were essentially blackballed all for filling a quota.
    That was Late 80s fast forward to 2021…
    Now we see this again except United runs said flight training academy so they can evaluate in-house and control the environment to guarantee success. What once might have been a 3 strikes and out rule may be relaxed to a more train to proficiency no matter how long it takes. Rest assured it will be a white glove training as company culture is moving towards this

    The current seniority list especially those hired in the last day 5-7 years does include a mixed male, women, minority population. Of course most are white males but there is a noticeable increase. Which is good. These candidates all come from various backgrounds and had experience prior to coming to UAL. That won’t always be the case going forward which is troublesome.

    In many countries outside of USA they use a MCL or multi crew license which allows low time pilots and I mean low less than 500 hours total time to fly as relief pilots on long haul flights. Some with only simulator time being the majority of their experience.

    I fly exclusively long haul and would not be comfortable taking my 6 hour break while someone with only a few hundred hours is at the controls as we are over the ocean. There are specific procedures and emergency procedures that must be adhered to as we transit in and out of airspace, weather avoidance, and in flight emergencies. Someone with that low time will definitely have tunnel vision if things get busy.

  74. @James787
    The reason for that is basically because in Europe, the Commercial & Airline Transport Pilot’s Licences are far harder to obtain than the FAA’s .This pertains to the Europeans going into far more depth in the various subject matter,than that required by the FAA. For example, to get an FAA ATPL,you need only pass one ground exam ,EASA,requires you to pass 14 ground exams in at most two sittings. This difference in philosophy allows EASA to permit airlines to hire F/O’s with250 hours to sit in the right seat of A320’s,737’s etc.
    Then we come to the old chesnut of hours. Who gains more from these 2day flights? : First Officer flies two long haul legs of 10 hrs each ,gets one landing, 18.5 hrs in the cruise.
    First Officer flies eight 2hour legs & gets 4 landings,& is busy 90% of the flights? Hours don’t always tell the whole story.

  75. @KJ
    With all due respect I wouldn’t necessarily say EASA licenses are harder to obtain. I would say that they do place a larger percentage of time in theory. To have many countries operating under EASA one would have to put a wide spectrum to cover. I find a theory test about radios to perhaps not be the best time spent and there are numerous and despite technology they all work very similar. So these 14 theory tests require plenty of study time and discipline but so does the FAA knowledge test. It just combines everything into one test.

    I have way more than 10,000 hrs (20 years been doing this) and I still remember my first airline flight. I was just trying to hold on and not miss anything (which I’m sure I did) and that was with more than 1500 hours and prior corporate turbine experience.

    I will stick to my statement that at 250 hours one is not proficient enough to operate a commercial airliner. Does it happen yes though not in USA. At 250 hours you may have a FAA commercial license which allows for compensation for your flying. Banner towing, aerial sightseeing, photography etc. FAA standards usually do not allow for ATP license with less than 1500 hrs (disclaimer 1250,1000 for aviation college, 750 if military flying)

    One needs to spend time gaining experience and to be honest scaring yourself a few times without 100 plus people in the back.

    Still under EASA rules Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom have all adopted the Multi Crew License use. This puts low time 250 hrs mostly in simulator in the cockpit of a commercial airliner. MCL pilots are ONLY trained for co-pilot duties as that is all their license is certified for.
    We use a dual PIC concept. Both pilots are type rated in the aircraft and either one is fully capable of operating it as PIC under a myriad of circumstances if needed.

    You can study theory all day, you can memorize everything but to actually go out and gain experience takes time. Training to the lowest common denominator is not the correct approach. If I need a surgeon I hope he has more experience than just theory and practicing using a virtual simulator.


  76. All these commenters making excuses about needing to hire the best person for the job. How mad would you be if you died in a plane crash operated by an all white flight crew due to pilot error???

  77. @James787
    I don’t disagree with most of your assertions, however,we all have to start somewhere. To use your Surgeon anecdote,your experienced surgeon would operate on patients albeit supervised,but nevertheless inexperienced initially.
    I too flew Part 135 early in my career,in fact it was intially,single pilot 135 IFR flying,way harder than flying as a 737 captain in Africa now,lol.
    I feel that one is always behind the airplane when flying a new type,so yes the 250 hr new hires are definately hanging on by their finger nails,but they do get better. However the authorities would argue,that the system works because the Zero hour type rated pilots(CPL’S/ Frozen ATPL’S)are hired by airlines worldwide(except FAA licensees) & they don’t expose the paying public to any risks.Literally thrown in at the deep end.

    It’s a conundrum, which really does highlight the different philosopies that EASA & the FAA adopt.The biggest bugbear being,for example, that neither authority will directly accept the other’s ATPL.
    That fact has always puzzled me,because if EASA feel the FAA’S ATPL is inferior,then why allow FAA licensed pilots to fly into Europe? Economic sabotage?
    Anyway that is another debate.

    Safe flying James.

  78. I feel sorry for the stigma that will attach to people hired under an initiative to hire a targeted color or gender. I noticed women and minority pilots in the past and never gave it a thought. Will people wonder if the pilot recruiter was under incentives to give race or gender an advantage to meet company goals?

    Why didn’t United just do it – expand training and recruitment – without the virtue signaling and stigma marking?

  79. Rather than talk about initiatives, why don’t they release the racial make up of THEIR pilots and other airlines pilots and see which companies are ACTUALLY diverse instead of nonsense about ‘future’ training. Don’t talk, show.

  80. Retired United pilot here…The best pilots I flew with were from military or general aviation (flew small airplanes because they loved to fly, not just for making money) that “worked their way up” gaining experience flight instructing, flying corporate jets, or flying for smaller regional airlines before finally being hired at United. Training pilots in a school like this just to fly for an airline will never be as good as the old fashioned way of military or general aviation first. Other countries like China, Russia and more have been training their pilots in these “pilot schools” and all you have to do is compare their poor safety record compared to the United States good safety record. “Pilot school airline pilots” will not have the THOUSANDS of hours of experience, that most pilots have been hired with in the US in the past, which is the most important criteria for hiring a pilot. EXPERIENCE. THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF EXPERIENCE. THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. You can train anyone to run checklists and use the autopilot to fly the airplane, but when something unusual or wrong happens…that’s where all of the experience comes in. The “pilot school airline pilots” will not have this experience. More accidents will happen, just like they do around the world with all of their “pilot school airline pilots”. There are some jobs that need to hire the very best, and an airline pilot is one of them. We all have equal OPPORTUNITY to work hard and become whatever we want to be. Anyone can be a pilot of they put in the time and work hard and get the experience. That’s what I did, I worked two full time jobs to pay for my flying and I love to fly. I gained thousands of hours of experience flight instructing, flying charters, flying freight, flying for a small regional airline, before United finally hired me. Anyone can do this. You can do anything you want if you work hard enough for it. Some, just don’t want to work for it anymore, they want to get what they want based on their color or race instead. That’s just wrong. And it will not make the airline industry safe, hiring that way, I am so sure of that.

  81. @KF
    I have a friend who works at a mechanic’s shop barely making $20 an hour, going through a divorce and has two kids, and hustles on the side to make more money and he is taking flying lessons. Anyone can do it if one has the passion and works hard. By the way he is a latino; he’s not playing the victim card looking for preferential treatment – he’s simply sacrificing and doing it.

  82. Oh, and by the way, I am a woman pilot, with tens of thousands of hours of safe flight time. I had thousands of hours of experience, and had several flying jobs before I was hired at United. I grew up very poor. I had no help. If you want something bad enough, and you work hard enough, you can do whatever you want to do. Anyone can. Equal OPPORTUNITY!
    As an example…if you had to have surgery, would it matter to you if your surgeon had two years of community college and very little actual experience, or a surgeon with eight years of college and many hours of experience? I don’t care what color, race or whatever you are….there are just some jobs that need to have the very best. We have equal opportunity for anyone to become the very best.

  83. So, i would like to know is what United Airlines were doing before this mandate? Were they discriminating against gender and color !? I fly for a competitor of United. My family were immigrants to the USA, and I do have some color on my skin. We grew up just above the poverty level. I paid for my own flight training, and still am paying off with student loans. ANYONE who works hard can become a pilot. Is United trying to sway persons not typically interested into this field? I dont get it?

  84. @Manny
    It is very simple – United is pretending to go woke because undoubtedly they believe it will be better for their bottom line.

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