Select Page

Did you know that IAM members train United pilots and flight attendants?

This highly skilled and specialized group of 150 IAM members design programs and provide training in aircraft systems and emergency procedures for United’s flight crews.

141 Report: The IAM Members Who Train Flight Crews

Jul 23, 2021

Did you know that IAM members train United pilots and flight attendants?

This highly skilled and specialized group of 150 IAM members design programs and provide training in aircraft systems and emergency procedures for United’s flight crews. Most of the group is based in Denver, but they also work in facilities in San Francisco and Chicago.

Dave talks to Chip Wilson and Verne Luxemburg, two IAM members of Local 1886 in Denver, Colorado who work as Fleet Technical and Emergency Procedures Instructors. These crafts are covered by the Fleet Technical Instructors and Related Employees Agreement between United Airlines and IAMAW District 141. 

When the interview begins we find Chip Wilson as “captain” of an Airbus A320 on the approach to SFO over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Instructors are specialized in each of United’s fleets. Chip oversees the group that trains pilots on Airbus A319 and Airbus A320 aircraft, while Vern specializes in the Boeing 787. Their training covers “every button, every switch,” besides emergency systems and procedures. 

Chip Wilson, an Army veteran, began working with United in 1992 and has been an Instructor since 1996. When the IAM was elected to represent the group in 1997, he became active as a Shop Steward, and currently serves as Committee Representative.  

Verne Luxenburg has a long history with United and the IAM. Since 1977, he has worked in LAX, LGA, JFK, and Denver Stapleton Airport before he transferred to SAN. He became active in the IAM and served as Committee Chair before rising to Assistant General Chair, a post he held from 2002 to 2010. Verne later became an Emergency Procedures Instructor, training flight attendants throughout the United system, before becoming a Fleet Technical Instructor. 

Brother Verne describes his close call with COVID, after contracting the virus in March 2020. He had to be hospitalized and placed on a ventilator to save his life. Fortunately, he’s made great strides and is back at work, although he has lingering problems that sometimes require him to use oxygen. After not seeing his parents for almost 2 years, he is ready to visit them after he completes his vaccination regimen in August. 

The benefits and job security that the IAM contract provides are “incredibly important,” says Chip. He recalls the furloughs they endured after 9-11 and credits their IAM contract with preventing furloughs “to zero,” preserving positions, and more importantly, the rights to the core work.

United has announced ambitious plans for expansion as we emerge from the pandemic, which is great news for the members of the Fleet Instructors group. “United Next” calls for a historic investment in over 200 new aircraft, and the hiring of over 25,000 new employees to support the new fleet. The company has been hiring Flight Training Instructors during the past year, and brothers Verne and Chip encourage qualified IAM members to apply.