United Airlines launches United Military Pilot Program

A former US military pilot poses in front of a United Airlines aircraft.
Photo Credit: United Airlines

United Airlines has unveiled the United Military Pilot Program, an employment initiative that offers full-time, active-duty U.S. military pilots a path to becoming First Officers with the airline.

This innovative program not only provides a stable career transition but also underscores United’s commitment to those who have served the nation.

Under the United Military Pilot Program, prospective candidates are welcomed with open arms, regardless of whether they currently hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP).

This flexibility means that active-duty military pilots can embark on their journey towards a civilian aviation career while serving their country. It’s a win-win situation for both parties involved.

United Airlines CEO Comments

Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines, expressed his endorsement of the program, stating, “At United, we are committed to investing in individuals who have served and are serving our country – whose military skills and background are invaluable to our airline.”

“Launching this program is a win-win: our airline gets direct access to some of the best, most talented aviators in the world, and military pilots – and their families – get the time they need to plan their civilian career while still serving.”


This unique approach demonstrates United’s dedication to supporting our military heroes and their families, recognizing the tremendous value they bring to the aviation industry.

Applying for the United Military Pilot Program

Active-duty military pilots interested in the United Military Pilot Program can find more information and begin their application process here.

Additionally, current or former military pilots who already meet United’s mainline hiring requirements and are within six months of availability are strongly encouraged to apply as First Officers.

United Airlines has a longstanding history of supporting the military. With over 16,000 pilots on board, more than 3,000 who have served or continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

The US airline also proudly employs nearly 7,700 military veterans and 1,500 actively serving personnel across various departments and functions.

This commitment extends to leadership positions as well, with many military veterans occupying key roles within the company.

United Airlines recognizes the unique skills and experiences that veterans bring to the table and values their contributions.

Transitioning to Commercial Ops

United Airlines says that it understands the challenges that military pilots face when transitioning to civilian commercial aviation. To address this, they’ve developed a comprehensive support system.

United Captain Michael Bonner, Managing Director of Aviate and Pilot Strategy and a former U.S. Air Force and Navy pilot, shares his insights:

“As a former military pilot, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to transition to a civilian commercial pilot, but through this new program, we’re providing the necessary tools, resources, and support system to ensure a direct path to the United flight deck.”

“Whether you are an active-duty pilot or approaching retirement, I encourage you to join the largest widebody fleet in the U.S.”

A United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner lifts off.
Photo Credit: United Airlines

United Next Plan

The need for pilots is also highlighted by the moves to bolster the carrier’s fleet.

As part of their ambitious United Next plan, United Airlines recently made history by ordering 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the largest order of widebody aircraft by any U.S. carrier in commercial aviation history.

Coupled with existing orders, this move anticipates the delivery of approximately 700 new aircraft by 2032.

This monumental purchase ushers in an era of unprecedented growth for the airline, with plans to add 50,000 new team members by 2026.

At the heart of this expansion lies the priority of hiring well-qualified and talented pilots. In the past 24 months alone, United has already welcomed over 4,000 new pilots into their ranks, and they have even grander plans for the decade ahead, aiming to hire over 10,000 pilots.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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