United Airlines plans to expand its Denver-based flight training center – the largest of its kind worldwide.

United anticipates that the new four-story building coming to its 23-acre Central Park campus at 7500 East 35th Ave. will be completed before next year’s end. Construction was spurred by the airline’s hiring push, with the overarching goal of employing another 10,000 pilots by 2030. This year, United is focused on hiring more than 2,000 new pilots.

The move comes as a pilot deficit grips not only the U.S., but also the globe. The Federal Aviation Administration limits the age of commercial pilots to 65, so pilots are aging out of the national industry. On top of that, fewer pilots are leaving the military, so the airline industry is rushing to secure new hires quickly, reports management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

“The expansion of this world-class facility gives United even more resources to recruit and train the next generation of aviators,” said Marc Champion, managing director of the flight training center, in a statement.

The new building will be home to 12 extra advanced flight simulators, training classrooms, conference rooms and offices, according to a news release. The campus already includes seven buildings and 555,000 square feet of training space, with 39 flight simulators and 15 fixed training devices.

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The Denver center is where United’s team of 12,000 active pilots — along with all new hires — train, with the aviators required to visit every nine months to keep their certifications up-to-date. Up to 600 pilots are at the campus at any one time.

The Mile High City is one of United’s seven domestic hubs, with more than 7,000 Denver-based employees. The airline, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest at Denver International Airport and has been a community fixture for more than 80 years.

United and the Air Line Pilots Association, International — the world’s biggest airline pilot union — recently came to a deal on new contract terms, which the airline says is a first among major U.S. carriers.

“United Airlines was the only airline to work with our pilots union to reach an agreement during COVID,” CEO Scott Kirby said. “It’s not surprising that we are now the first airline to get an Agreement in Principle for an industry leading new pilot contract.”

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