United-SIU-launch partnership

SIU-United Aviate partnership — Perry Lewis, left, director of United Aviate and pilot strategy, and SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane sign an agreement Sept. 13 allowing SIU School of Aviation students to have an accelerated career path to become professional pilots through United Aviate’s program. (Photos by Russell Bailey)

September 14, 2022

SIU Aviation-United Airlines partnership provides most secure career path to the United flight deck

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A partnership between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and United Airlines is providing the most secure career path for aviation students interested in becoming professional pilots.

Chancellor Austin A. Lane and United representatives signed a partnership agreement between the university’s School of Aviation and United’s Aviate career development program at the Glenn Poshard Transportation Education Center on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane said joining United Aviate fits well with the university’s strategic plan, Imagine 2030, and its pillars addressing student success and partnerships.

“I am excited for this new partnership, which will provide another pathway to careers for our hard-working, talented aviation students,” Lane said. “As we honor our long, proud history, we have our eyes on the future to provide connections and opportunities for our students, including close ties to the industry.”

The airline’s industry-leading pilot career development program offers aspiring and established pilots the most secure path to the United flight deck. SIU aviation students and certified flight instructors in the program will have the opportunity to gain experience and build their hours toward their R-ATP (restricted privileges airline transport pilot) rating. The rating allows a pilot to serve as a co-pilot until they obtain the necessary 1,500 flight hours. Throughout the Aviate program, participants have opportunities to connect with members of the United family, receive mentorship from a United pilot, and access to travel privileges.

“In an ever-evolving global economy, it’s all the more important that universities and businesses join together to create valuable partnerships both for research and design as well as university to business employee pipelines,” SIU System President Dan Mahony said. “And what a stellar partnership we have with a great Illinois-headquartered organization like United. On behalf of the Southern Illinois University System, we congratulate this long-time friend of the university on taking another step with SIU Carbondale as they join the Aviate career development program.”

SIU Carbondale is the latest university aviation program to partner with Aviate.

“We are proud to welcome SIU to the United Aviate program as their longstanding history of attracting and developing skilled aviators incorporates well into our pilot recruitment strategy,” said Michael Bonner, managing director of pilot strategy and Aviate at United. “Current and future SIU aviation students will benefit from this partnership in their journeys to becoming professional pilots.”

As an Aviate university partner, current and former SIU students and instructors who apply and are successful in the Aviate selection process will receive a conditional job offer from United. This year alone, United has hired about 1,600 pilots and is well on track to meet its goal of hiring 10,000 pilots by 2030.

“This partnership will be a boon for our students and serve to galvanize the already strong relationship that exists between United and the SIU School of Aviation,” said José Ruiz, professor and School of Aviation interim director. “We’re proud to be a partner of Aviate, which will complement the excellent instruction and hands-on experiences our students receive.”

More information on SIU’s Aviation program is available at aviation.siu.edu. Additional information on United’s Aviate program is available at unitedaviate.com.

United-SIU partnership ribbon cutting

SIU System President Dan Mahony, along with SIU Carbondale and United Aviate officials and pilots, cuts the ribbon to celebrate the start of the SIU-United Aviate partnership. Next to Mahony are, left, Monica Frain, senior manager of Aviate sourcing and engagement, and right, SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane. Others attending include Illinois State Sen. Terri Bryant; State Sen. Dale Fowler and State Rep. Paul Jacobs.

United pilots addressing students

These United Airlines pilots who are SIU School of Aviation alumni talk to students about their careers.