Purpose In this study, research problem has been designed as a fleet-based optimization problem. This paper aims to present fleet modelling with risk taxonomy. Fleet modelling has been assumed as strategic multi-criteria decision-making problem to capacity building. Capacity building risk management is an essential element within the scope of its strategy to ensure sustainable corporate performance. Optimization is a fundamental target in aviation business' strategy and management since the manager make decisions in their multi-interrelated criteria environment. Also, aviation is a highly regulated sector, and its operational and business procedures have certain limits by both national and international authorities. For this reason, companies implement risk management for strategic optimization while performing operations in compliance with the legislation. Risk management with capacity building and resource dependency perspective applied for strategic optimization aims to capture opportunities and result in threats with minimum accidents and incidents. Design/methodology/approach The taxonomy and analytical hierarchy process (AHP) have been identified as methodologies in this research. The type of training in the high organizational performance of an approved training organization, strategy, resources and allocations with the corporate objectives, the amount and qualifications of the flight crew, their professionalism, maintenance team and licenses, hangar conditions and capacity, authority requirements and limits, region conditions, altitude and meteorology, student profile, together with a multi-criteria decision are to be considered. For each criterion, there are resources and thus resource dependence. In this study, the analytical network process method was used. In the construction of new taxonomy, specific criteria have been considered, and the analysis has been accomplished as multi-criteria decision-making problem because of the relationship and interaction between them. A number of professionals with high knowledge of the pilots and manager from Air Traffic Organization participated in the study. Findings The fleet modelling is both strategic and operational decision issue for training organizations. In this issue, there is a vital problem as which aircrafts should include fleet? Main criteria and sub-criteria are analyzed by AHP method supported by structured interview and sorted according to their priorities and the fleet qualifications consisting of the most suitable aircraft/aircraft are presented. The finding and suggestions will contribute to establish sustainable organization in based on capacity building and resource dependency for managers. While analyzing main criteria, the important criteria which were found were strategic and then operational. After ordering main criteria, sub-criteria were analyzed and were multiplicated with their items. According to study findings, aircraft suitability for training model is the most important item. It follows respectively aircraft maintenance sustainability, cost of aircraft supply and faculty budget adequacy. However, operation characteristics of the square that is less important item was found. It was seen that the strategies used to manage dependencies used the bridge strategy. The results we obtained with the interviews with pilot managers are very significant in terms of resource dependence on the subject of fleet optimization. While first criterion is operational, it continues with strategic and financial criteria. After interviews with pilot managers, it was figured out that maintenance is also very important criteria. For managing this dependency, university has acquisitions, which is one of the strategy to manage dependency, rather than outsourcing. For this reason, maintenance criterion has lower importance than others. When thinking of other criteria, strategic and financial criteria have played an important role. University has tried to decrease dependency and increase sustainability. Research limitations/implications Aircraft selection is a strategic decision of fleet modelling in both aviation business and also training organizations via influencing their corporate performance, operational performance, capacity building and their sustainability. There are some factors that limit the criteria, as research problem has been developed for approved training organizations not airlines. For this reason, our research is limited with fleet of training organizations. Our findings and suggestions may be useful for flight schools to managing their resource dependency and also to their capacity building. In this research, new taxonomy has been developed depending on training organizations' qualifications. Airlines may improve this taxonomy to use in their decision-making process. Practical implications The fleets, which were established considering the taxonomy in this study, will be able to manage the risk of resource dependency more successfully. Pilot candidates will be able to provide a more ergonomic and higher quality education. This research and its findings will contribute to the development of organizations' accurate and timely decision-making skills. Resource dependency may threat organizational sustainability in our research, New taxonomy and our holistic approach will support organizational efforts to achieve sustainable strategies. Social implications New taxonomy to modelling fleet that has been developed in this research may provide contribution to approved training organizations for both managing resource dependency-based risks and to capacity building-related decision-making process. This research may serve organizations as strategic decision-making tool. And also this kind of study may contribute to improve sustainability of organizations and serve more good fleet for their pilot candidates. For these reasons, this research may create social implications, as both resource using and capacity building will make contribution for society and add value. Originality/value This research presents new risk taxonomy and criteria. Also new taxonomy and its criteria are analysed with AHP. It is thought that this research shows risk management-based approach for fleet modelling creates benefits for approved training organizations to using their limited sources effectively and efficiently. The article includes risk management and capacity building-related approach to decision-making. also, this research presents modeling which will contribute to the management field besides literature. In developing taxonomy process, the analysis has been conducted, based on expert opinions and referred to for these pairwise comparisons. Airlines managers and risk managers may examine their fleet modelling according to our taxonomy which is based on risk management.