Story at a glance
- United Airlines launched a new initiative to improve diversity in its pilot training programs.
- Globally, most pilots are non-Hispanic white people.
- The program by United has financial backing by JPMorgan Chase and Sallie Mae.
United Airlines set new diversity goals for its pilots on Monday, announcing the company set a goal of having at least half of students in its pilot academy be women and people of color.
In the press release, the company states that United is the only airline to make such an effort.
Scholarship opportunities will be funded by lending institutions JPMorgan Chase and Sallie Mae. This year, United plans to enroll 100 students in its United Aviate Academy to train as commercial airline pilots, “one of the most lucrative careers in the industry,” the company said.
Roughly $1.2 million will be made available to funding scholarships.
“Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed a job with United, after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program – and our plan is for half of them to be women and people of color," said United CEO Scott Kirby. "We're excited that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to support our work to diversify our pilot ranks and create new opportunities for thousands of women and people of color who want to pursue a career in aviation."
The airline has partnered with advocacy organizations like the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies, the Latino Pilots Association and the Professional Asian Pilots Association to help enroll a more diverse class of students into pilot training programs.
Global data indicates that a vast majority, about 86.4 percent, of aircraft pilots and flight engineers are white and non-Hispanic across the world.
In the U.S. specifically, this number is about 61.3 percent.
The Center for Aviation also reports that data for the U.S. and the U.K. indicate that about only 4 percent of airline pilots are women. About 7 percent of all U.S. pilot certificates are held by women.
This number has steadily increased since 2007, but by less than 1 percentage point within the decade between 2007 to 2017.