United Launches Industry-leading Program to Provide Active-duty U.S. Military Pilots Conditional Job Offers

September 28, 2023

United 737 Captain and LAX Assistant Chief Pilot, Kenneth “KP” Kirkpatrick, served more than 12 years on active duty in the U.S Air Force. KP joined United a decade ago as a First Officer.

New program gives access to First Officer jobs while candidates complete their military service 

Military pilots don't need an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate at the time of application but must complete all required flight training and certification prior to joining the airline 

United hired over 4,000 new pilots in the last 24-months and expects to add over 10,000 this decade 

CHICAGO, Sept. 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- United today announced the launch of the United Military Pilot Program, an industry-leading program giving full-time, active-duty U.S. military pilots access to conditional job offers as a First Officer with the airline. The program is unique in that it provides a secure landing place for program participants while they complete their service to the nation and work toward meeting all United hiring requirements.  

Under the terms of the new program, successful candidates must first take part in an interview and then complete all required flight training and certification prior to joining the airline. An important element of United's program is that candidates don't need to hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP) at the time of application. Instead, they can obtain their ATP before joining United – providing flexibility for service members, including starting at United when the time is right for them and their families.  

"At United we are committed to investing in individuals who have served and are serving our country – whose military skills and background are invaluable to our airline," said Scott Kirby, United CEO. "Launching this program is a win-win: our airline gets direct access to some of the best, most talented aviators in the world, and military pilots – and their families – get the time they need to plan their civilian career while still serving." 

Interested active-duty military pilots can learn more about the United Military Pilot Program and apply for the program here. Current or former military pilots who already meet United's mainline hiring requirements and are less than six months from availability, or already available, or are flying in the reserve component are encouraged to apply as a First Officer today.  

Currently, United has over 16,000 pilots, including over 3,000 who have served or currently serve in the United States Armed Forces. United employs nearly 7,700 military veterans and 1,500 actively serving personnel across various departments and functions, including many serving in leadership and executive positions.  

"As a former military pilot, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to transition to a civilian commercial pilot, but through this new program we're providing the necessary tools, resources, and support system to ensure a direct path to the United flight deck," said United Captain Michael Bonner, Managing Director of Aviate and Pilot Strategy and a former U.S. Air Force and Navy pilot. "Whether you are an active-duty pilot or approaching retirement, I encourage you to join the largest widebody fleet in the U.S."  

Other defined paths to the United flight deck

On top of the United Military Pilot Program, there are multiple paths to becoming a pilot at United depending on flight experience:   

  • First Officer Hiring: This path is for experienced pilots who meet mainline hiring requirements, who are ready to fly for United now and do not need an alternate path or program.
  • United Aviate program: United's pilot career development program designed for pilots with their Private Pilot Certificate (PPL) who are either learning to fly or are building experience with an Aviate-participating university, flight school, Part 135 operator or United Express carrier.
  • United Aviate Academy: United's wholly-owned flight school in Goodyear, Arizona for aspiring aviators who want to learn to fly with little to no flight experience – with the goal of at least half of the students being women or people of color.

Unprecedented Growth  

As part of the carrier's ambitious United Next plan, last December, United ordered more widebody aircraft than any U.S. carrier in commercial aviation history: 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners with options to purchase 100 more. Combined with already announced orders, the airline expects to take delivery of about 700 new aircraft by 2032.  

With this historic purchase comes unprecedented growth, including adding 50,000 new team members by 2026. Hiring well-qualified and talented pilots is a priority at United. Over the last 24 months, United has hired over 4,000 new pilots and expects to hire over 10,000 pilots this decade.  

About United  

At United, Good Leads The Way. With U.S. hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., United operates the most comprehensive global route network among North American carriers, and is now the largest airline in the world as measured by available seat miles. For more about how to join the United team, please visit www.united.com/careers and more information about the company is at www.united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc., the parent company of United Airlines, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL". 

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com