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United Announces Expansion To Flight Training Center

The expansion is a part of the carrier's plans to hire 10,000 pilots this decade.

A United Boeing 737 rotating out of Washington Dulles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Peter Weiland)

Major carriers across the country have been hiring pilots at a record number since the recovery from the pandemic. Retirements are forecasted to continue with force through the end of the decade as well, begging the question of how carriers are planning to keep up with the pace. United alone says it plans to hire 10,000 new pilots this decade.

To achieve this, the carrier announced a significant expansion to the already large Flight Training Center in Denver. The expansion is a part of the carrier’s United Next Plan to incorporate an additional building to the training complex and create room for 12 additional flight simulators. 

World’s Largest Flight Training Center

The Chicago-based carrier currently has the largest Flight Training Center in the world in Denver, holding all training events for the over 16,000 pilots flying for the global airline. With the addition of the new building, the complex spans 700,000 square feet of training space in eight buildings, housing 46 full-motion flight simulators. These high-tech simulators provide an environment for the carrier to train pilots on specific aircraft who have been hired and to keep current pilots current and proficient. 

United’s new building at their Flight Training Center in Denver. (Photo: United Airlines)

While the new building has six simulators installed currently, the carrier has the ability to install an additional six, bringing the future total to 52 full-motion flight sims. The facility trains pilots 24 hours a day, 362 days a year. The carrier conducts over 32,000 training events each year and can now train 860 pilots a day. 

The new $145 million facility is the latest part in strengthening United’s foundation in Denver, having invested $370 million in the Flight Training Center since 2016. The carrier is a significant part of the local economy in the Colorado capital, spending over $44 million last year on hotel rooms alone for the pilot group and is currently estimating a bill in excess of $64 million this year. 

Into The Future

Two months into the new year, the major carrier has already hired 300 pilots after hiring 2,300 last year. This complements the airline’s plans to add 800 new narrowbody and widebody aircraft over the next decade, requiring a significant demand for qualified, professional pilots. 

While the new facility will increase training capacity for the carrier, United does not believe it will be enough for the thousands of pilots the airline plans to hire and keep proficient. The major airline bought 2 parcels of land near Denver International Airport last year, intending to build a second training center, since the current facility has run out of room to expand. The second site is slated to begin training crews in 2028.

Zach Cooke

Author

  • Zach Cooke

    Zach’s love for aviation began when he was in elementary school with a flight sim and model planes. This passion for being in the air only intensified throughout high school when he earned his Private Pilot Certificate. He then attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, earning his certificates and ratings to later flight instruct and share his passion for aviation with others. He now resides in the North East living out his dream as an airline pilot.

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