WMU-United partnership could help ease pilot shortage

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — United Airlines is partnering with Western Michigan University, hoping to create a pipeline of talent to cope with a national shortage of commercial pilots.

WMU’s College of Aviation will work with United’s Aviate program to develop future pilots.

“The United Aviate Program primarily provides a phenomenal pathway for students and flight instructors to have a clear defined road to working at United as a first officer and later a captain,” WMU Executive Director of Flight Operations Tom Grossman explained.

He said students must have a 3.0 GPA and earn a private pilots certificate to apply for the program, among other requirements. Participants would then complete Western’s degree program and work as a WMU flight instructor, followed by time flying for a regional carrier partnered with United.

“It’s known worldwide that there’s a pilot shortage and our enrollment numbers have been going up and having additional flight instructors will benefit Western Michigan University,” Grossman said.

United Airlines wants to hire 10,000 new pilots over the next decade to compensate for retirements and handle expected growth.

Flight instructor and recent graduate David Gyuro said the new partnership is a great opportunity to pursue a career with the major airline.

“We’re in the right industry at the right time and it’s just an exciting field out here right now,” Gyuro said.

He worked as an intern for United and hopes to one day fly international flights for the carrier.

“It hasn’t been until recently that the major air carriers have partnered with universities,” Grossman said.

In July 2018, the university announced a partnership with the Delta Propel Career Path Program, hoping to develop more pilots for that airline.

Future airline pilots like Gyuro say the opportunities in the industry are encouraging.

“That they are immediately hiring and at such an astonishing rate is inspiring,” Gyuro said.

For more information on the program, you can visit the WMU College of Aviation website.

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