Air Transport World

Icing on the cake.

United Airlines' newly expanded pilot-training center is doing a lot more than training United pilots

The new $250 million expansion at United Airlines' flight training facility in Denver added more than 120,000 sq. ft. of space and 10 new simulators to the 26 already available, increasing the airline's simulator capacity by almost 40%.

While that 40% exceeds what the airline will need to meet anticipated growth in its pilot ranks, that really wasn't why it was built. Its purpose was to provide the flexibility to expand third-party training while expanding capability for training United's own pilots.

United's pilot-training facility has been located at the old Denver Stapleton Airport site since 1943. The current complex was built in 1968; the newest training building opened last May 26.

With some 9,320 pilots, a major problem with the facility has been the cyclic nature of pilot training, producing periods of high need-United had to buy simulator time from other carriers last year-to excess capacity, with simulators as well as instructors idled.

Essentially, the opening of the new facility allows United to level off the peaks and fill the valleys by expanding or contracting third-party training as necessary. United Flight Standards and Training can fill all of its own needs as required, selling off any excess to UAL Flight Training Services.

Flight Training Services is one of five UAL Services divisions created in 1995 to sell excess capacity within the airline's core operations. The other four divisions are Maintenance Services, Material Services, Airport Services and Asset Management.

Scott Brennan, director-Flight Training Services, said the two major focuses for the new facility are to provide incremental benefits to United's core operation and generate incremental profit by marketing core operations through third-party training. …

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