A Florida-based flight school will open a training center Monday at the Colorado Springs Airport to train pilots for United, SkyWest and 18 other U.S. airlines.

ATP Flight School, which operates training centers in Colorado at Centennial Airport in Englewood and Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, is opening the center here because many of the students at its Centennial center were commuting from Colorado Springs, said Michael Arnold, ATP’s director of marketing. The Springs center is space leased from the Colorado jetCenter in the airport’s west-side general aviation area.

“This location has always been on our radar; Colorado Springs is such a hot spot for aviation. This is a good time to open,” Arnold said. “Right now, it is a pilot’s market, and our only focus is on domestic airline pilot training. We structure our training to teach airline operating procedures to take aspiring pilots from zero experience through an airline pilot job with an accelerated program.”

United Airlines launched a program last year to recruit, train and hire pilots and this month agreed to buy the Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix to address a looming pilot shortage many airlines are battling.

ATP’s nine-month course costs nearly $81,000, but airlines offer up to $17,500 in tuition reimbursement and students are guaranteed a paid flight instructor position after the course to gain flight hours and experience before taking an airline job, Arnold said. The company’s fleet of nearly 400 aircraft includes single- and multi-engine aircraft, and last year ATP ordered 100 more planes for its program.

ATP opened another location this year in San Antonio and is planning to open others later in the year in Orlando, Fla., and in the northeast U.S.; the company opened the Broomfield center last year along with others in Fort Myers, Fla., and Tucson, Ariz. Founded in 1984, ATP is the nation’s largest flight training firm for pilots at airlines, corporate flight departments, charter operators, flight schools and the U.S. military, graduating 144 students a month.

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