United Airlines has launched Calibrate, an in-house apprenticeship program that it hopes will help grow and diversify its pipeline of aircraft mechanics. The inaugural class starts in November in Houston as the airline plans to train more than 1,000 people at about a dozen locations by 2026, with the goal of at least half being women or people of color.
Calibrate is a 36-month program in which participants “earn and learn” getting paid while completing the full-time certification and training process. Since participants get paid while they train, they forgo the expense of going to a technical school – which can cost up to $50,000.
United will start accepting external applications in early 2023. Interested applicants can sign up to receive more information about Calibrate at https://careers.united.com/us/en/calibrate.
“Calibrate is a great opportunity for people who are interested in pursuing a rewarding career as an aircraft technician but don’t have the resources or support they need to attend traditional technical schools or colleges,” said Rodney Luetzen, United’s vice president of line maintenance. “This program will provide life-changing opportunities, help to diversify our workforce and give us access to an even bigger pool of talented, qualified, motivated people.”
The apprenticeship program, a joint effort between United, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Federal Aviation Administration, accelerates the path toward becoming a United AMT while also growing the airline’s ranks of Ground Service Equipment mechanics and Facility Technicians.
United expects the second Calibrate apprentice cohort to start in early 2023, also in Houston, and will then expand to more than a dozen locations including San Francisco and Orlando. The program will focus on helping apprentices gain the skills and knowledge required to test for and obtain their A&P Certificate, including hands-on and classroom training. Additionally, participants will be mentored by United’s world-class technicians, building relationships and acquiring union seniority as they progress through the program.
“The Airline Division has done an excellent job of promoting the Aviation Maintenance Technician craft,” said Sean O’Brien, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “This program creates the diversity that the Teamsters are known for and will provide great jobs for not only our current Teamster members, but also the next generation.”
United has about 9,000 highly trained and certified aircraft maintenance technicians globally with combined wages and benefits totaling more than $140,000 at the top of their pay scale. These are highly skilled jobs – the airline actively recruits from trade schools and the military – and United provides an onramp to this career through entry-level positions. Several United leaders started out as aircraft mechanics, including the airline’s current vice president of line maintenance.
Currently, United has base maintenance aircraft mechanics, line maintenance aircraft mechanics, and shop-based aircraft mechanics, inspectors and other licensed professionals at 50 locations worldwide. The airline plans to open new line maintenance stations in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. later this year and in Fort Myers-Southwest, FL and Nashville, Tenn. in early 2023.
White House Infrastructure Pipeline Challenge
Kate Gebo, United executive vice president of human resources & labor relations, will join President Biden as the Administration concludes its summer-long Talent Pipeline Challenge. As part of this nationwide call to action, employers are encouraged to build, scale, or support local training models to recruit, train, or hire workers in their sector, creating pathways to quality jobs for women, people of color, and underserved workers.
Supporting United Next
Last year, United announced the purchase of 270 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft — the largest combined order in the airline’s history and the biggest by an individual carrier in the last decade. To support its United Next plan, the airline plans to hire over 50,000 people by 2026, including tens of thousands of quality, unionized jobs.
This year, United is on track to hire more than 15,000 new team members systemwide and expects to hire over 15,000 new employees in 2023, including 7,000 maintenance technicians by 2026. This year alone, United has hired over 800 maintenance technicians and expects to hire 2,000 in 2023.
The Only Major U.S. Airline to Own a Flight School
Earlier this year, United officially opened the United Aviate Academy, welcoming the first class of student pilots, 80% of which were women or people of color, outpacing the airline’s goal to train about 5,000 new pilots at the school by 2030 with at least half being women or people of color. Backed by scholarship commitments from United and JPMorgan Chase, United Aviate Academy will create opportunities for thousands of students, including women and people of color to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot, one of the most lucrative careers in the industry.