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United Aviate Academy Receives First Cirrus Training Aircraft

On Thursday, June 16th, 2022, Cirrus Aircraft delivered the first of 25 trainer aircraft to the United Aviate Academy. The only aviation academy in the United States that is owned and operated by an airline.

The start of a long partnership

On January 27th, 2022, United Airlines aviation academy United Aviate Academy made history. On this day, the school officially welcomed its first inaugural class marking the day as the first in which a US airline has opened its flight school for new pilots.

On January 27th, United Aviate Academy began its inaugural class. Photo: United Airlines

United aims to hire 10,000 new pilots within the next decade. The airline is looking to train 5,000 pilots through their new academy in the same timeframe. United decided to launch this new program in response to the current pilot shortage. For aspiring pilots, this education path offers the most direct route to the United flight deck.


United seems to have built a school that will last for decades. The academy is more than a simple response to current issues. It is a valuable asset that United hopes to grow and utilize to its full potential. With the future in mind, United placed an order with Cirrus Aircraft for 25 new trainer aircraft.

A plane to train the future

The deal that United struck with Cirrus was for 25 SR series TRAC20 aircraft, with the option to acquire fifty more to keep up with the expanding program. The TRAC20 is equipped with much of the avionics equipment found in modern airliners. Including, Synthetic vision, Active Traffic, and Chart View. This advanced avionics package was selected to help students prepare for the airlines after graduation.

The selected internal specifications of the recently delivered TRAC20. Photo: Adam Moussa, Cirrus Aircraft

Cirrus Aircraft went the extra mile by including features specific to the school’s training environment in Goodyear, Arizona. These features include a warm weather package to help keep both students and instructors comfortable while training. Along with hazard and traffic avoidance systems which enhance a pilot’s situational awareness in a dense training area. Zean Nielsen the Chief Executive Officer of Cirrus Aircraft elaborated on the advanced safety features of their aircraft by stating,

“Cirrus Aircraft is proud to work with the United Aviate Academy to provide the next generation of United Airlines pilots with a fleet of advanced training aircraft built with the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System. For over 30 years, Cirrus Aircraft has been at the forefront of numerous industry safety innovations and maintains a safety rating well above the industry average,”

A shared enthusiasm

Aircraft manufacturers and airlines have a bit of a forced relationship. Neither one exists without the other. This new flight school is no exception to that rule. For United Aviate Academy, the future is filled with exciting opportunities. With this new contract, Cirrus gets to share in the excitement as both help to shape the future of aviation. Dana Donati, the Chief Executive Officer of the United Aviate Academy shared this enthusiasm by stating,

“The TRAC20 is one of the most technologically advanced aircraft on the market and we are super excited to bring it to our academy and train our students to prepare them for United Airlines,”

Zean Nielsen the Chief Executive Officer of Cirrus Aircraft reflected the excitement felt by the team at Cirrus when he said,

“Together, we are introducing more people to aviation and providing new opportunities for underrepresented populations by removing barriers and supporting new programs like United Aviate Academy.”

The first of many

The first aircraft to be delivered was the TRAC20 with a tail number of N402AV. This aircraft was designed under the direction of both the flight school and Cirrus. Cirrus offers a personal customization feature where customers can assist in the aesthetic design process through collaboration with the Cirrus Aircraft Xi design team. This feature is available for all Cirrus aircraft that the school has ordered.

Many more TRAC20s are to come, and each will be just a little different from the last. This partnership appears that it will span over the next decade if not longer. United Airlines’ ambition to train 5,000 new pilots in the next decade looks to not only combat the current pilot shortage but will also set the airline up for success in the years to come. The future brings numerous possibilities, but one thing is for sure. For the foreseeable future, Cirrus will be right there with United in preparing the next generation of pilots for whatever the future may hold.

Would you go to this flight school if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments below.

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