By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4) – An innovative partnership between United Airlines and Metropolitan State University-Denver is propelling students from the classroom to the cockpit.
“I love flying so much!” aviation student Madison Wolf said. “The airlines are definitely my end goal, so United would be amazing.”
It can be a long trip for young pilots hoping to join a major airline.
The partnership between United and MSU-Denver is making that journey more direct by offering a new Career Path Program (CPP). For the first time, a major U.S. airline is establishing a CPP to give students an opportunity to fly for United.
“I think it’s the wave of the future,” Kevin Kuhlmann, Associate Chair of MSU-Denver’s Aviation & Aerospace Department, said. “We’re extremely excited that we’re going to be the launch customer in this agreement.”
MSU-Denver has one of the largest and most advanced collegiate aviation programs in the country. Kuhlmann said the hands-on learning students get at the university helps develop highly qualified pilots and that’s especially important in this day and age.
“If you look out 10 to 15 years and start to add up how many people are retiring from major airlines,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann, “you start to realize they’re losing 2,000 to 3,000 pilots per year.”
According to the 2017 Boeing Pilot Outlook, it’s projected 637,000 new commercial airline pilots will be needed to fly and maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.
Kuhlmann said United isn’t affected by the looming shortage yet, but the airline is now choosing Colorado students to help keep them off the ground.
“It’s aviation history,” Kuhlmann said. “Students have an opportunity to interview while they’re still in their academic pursuits. By doing that, they can concentrate on a defined path United Airlines has laid out for them. They’re going to be the crews of the future.”
The CPP does not guarantee a future job with United nor are students contractually obligated to work for the airline. However, the first-of-its-kind program is keeping students like Madison Wolf on course for success.
“I mean, I hope so,” Wolf said. “As long as I can keep up all the requirements, which I plan on doing. United is just top-of-the-line, I think.”
The CPP is cleared for takeoff, but it’s not off the ground yet. MSU-Denver students can begin applying for the program in August for the 2018 fall semester.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.