Flight path from college to United cockpit with MSU Denver partnership

New flight program announced, first in nation

DENVER —United Airlines has partnered with Metropolitan State University of Denver to put students on a clear flight path to the United cockpit.

"It really helps a student see where they’re going and provides motivation to finish out their classes, their studying and all of training," Bill Jones said. The 19-year-old first-year sophomore at MSU Denver first explored the possibility of piloting when he was only 16 years old. 

He's one of many who are excited to get involved in this new Career Path Program (CPP).

"The biggest thing it can get me is a seat at United," Jones said.

The legacy airline will be the first in the U.S. to create a direct path with a university aviation department. This agreement is different from other regional carriers that have offered students pilot recruitment programs in the past.

CPP is aimed at addressing the growing need for new pilots and creating an additional pipeline for well-trained United pilots.

"There has never been a better time to get into aviation than now," Jones added.

An estimated 32,000 pilots are needed each year on a global level just to meet the demands of basic air travel, according to Boeing.

"There are several factors that have fed into that shortage, that go well back towards the 2000s," Kevin Kuhlmann said. He's an MSU Denver professor and the department's associate chairman.

Kuhlmann mentioned the FAA's mandatory retirement extension, from 60 years old to 65, and the agency's expanded certificate requirements that followed.

In the past, Denver7 viewers have pointed to the high cost of pursuing aviation as a deterrent. 

"Deciding to go into this career field is definitely an investment in yourself," Kuhlmann said.

From a student's perspective, Jones said, "Yes, it’s an expensive career to get into, but the payoff in the end is leaps and bounds above any struggle that you’re going to have to put in in the beginning."

Students are looking at a pilot price tag of anywhere between $100,000 and $300,000.

Kuhlmann added, "I think anybody on Wall Street would take a $200,000 investment, with the promise of $6+ million in return, just in salary." 

Salaries that students would see slightly sooner, with the help of CPP. As students will start an integral interview process while still in school.

Through the program, students are given the option to transition from MSU Denver to United after meeting several specific requirements.

“The career path program helps us to operate our fleet efficiently and continue to provide great service to our customers,” Captain Mike McCasky with United Airlines said. “Additionally, it provides talented students like the ones at MSU Denver with the opportunity to join a global airline that is focused on providing the best experience for our customers while being part of a great team.”

Students can apply for consideration into the CPP in the Fall 2018 semester. The minimum requirements to be considered for the CPP interview process include: 

  • At least two semesters in the professional flight officer program.
  • Commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating. 
  • Maintain full-time status with 3.0 cumulative GPA in aviation courses. 
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