Trans States Mechanic Helps Save a Life in Midair

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STL hangar mechanic Mike Russell

Prior to his career as a Trans States A & P mechanic, Mike Russell was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in New York City for over two decades.  Mike’s job at Trans States comes with American Airlines travel benefits, which he recently used to fly to Kingston, Jamaica to visit family.  Little did he know that during the trip, he would need to put his EMT training to work to help save a life in midair.

During the first leg of his trip, a flight from St. Louis to Miami, a passenger began experiencing shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms of a potentially serious medical condition.  When a flight attendant asked if any of the passengers had medical training, Mike and a doctor on board jumped into action.  Mike assisted the doctor in caring for the passenger until the flight could divert to Atlanta and the passenger could receive medical attention on the ground.

American Airlines was very impressed with Mike’s selfless actions, and sent him the below note of appreciation, as well as a voucher for future travel.

Dear Mr. Russell:

Please accept our company’s formal “Thank You” for the assistance you provided aboard your recent flight. We are all grateful that you were on board and freely offered your medical expertise when it was needed most. Without a doubt, you greatly improved a difficult situation.

As an expression of our appreciation for volunteering your time and experience, we’ve made arrangements for an eVoucher for you to use toward the purchase of a ticket to travel with us. I realize your offer of assistance was not motivated by any potential reward. Nevertheless, we wanted you to know how much your efforts were appreciated.

Whether it’s in our hangar or in the air, Mike can always be counted on to put others first.  We’re proud that he’s part of our team.

Trans States Inspires High School Students to Become the Next Generation of Aviators

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Students from McClure High School in St. Louis get a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes on in our maintenance hangar.

This spring, Trans States had the opportunity to welcome math students from McCluer High School in St. Louis to our corporate offices and hangar facility for the third year in a row.  Their instructor, Jenna Henderson, is a lifelong aviation enthusiast, who started organizing annual field trips to Trans States after learning about aviation career opportunities from her neighbor, Jan McCall.

Jan, a former Trans States pilot turned Aviation Studies professor, suggested that Jenna encourage her students to consider aviation as a career path.  The industry is facing a severe shortage of qualified personnel, and a recent study by Boeing projects extraordinary demand for pilots, mechanics and flight attendants over the next 20 years.  Jan proposed a field trip to Trans States’ St. Louis headquarters so that Jenna’s students could see first hand all of the different aviation career opportunities that they could pursue right in their hometown.

Even though many of Jenna’s students had never even flown before, let alone considered aviation as a career, she jumped at chance to visit Trans States with her students.  “Trans States is in my students’ backyard, and it offers many career paths that they may not even know about,” she explained.  An annual tradition was born.

This year’s tour included a tour of the cabin trainer that our flight attendants use to practice everything from the beverage service to emergency evacuation drills, as well as a demonstration of the Graphical Flight Simulators that our pilots use during training.

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Students also toured Systems Operations Control (SOC), where they learned about career opportunities in Dispatch, Crew Scheduling and Maintenance Control.  During the SOC tour, the students spoke with McCluer alum and Maintenance Controller Bryan Cross, who told the students about his career and the steps that he took to get where he is today.

The highlight of the trip is always the visit to the Trans States hangar facility, where students have the opportunity to get hands on with our Embraer 145 aircraft and watch our mechanics in action.  For many of the students, it’s the first time that they’ve ever been near an airplane.  “I’ve never been around this type of environment before,” student Carlando Dickens remarked.  “It’s different and interesting.”

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The trip is also a great opportunity for Jenna to show her students how the math skills they are learning in class will be important later in life.  This resonated with student Megan Robinson, who remarked, “It’s really interesting to see how the mechanics basically have to take the entire plane apart, and then put it back together.  With all of the measurements that they have to do, it makes sense that they would have to understand mathematical problem solving.”

Her classmate, Hailey Drake, agreed.  “I’m glad to see that what we learn in school becomes important later on in life,” she added. “Being able to use math calculations can help you do what you want to do for a living, just like the mechanics I’m meeting today.”

Assisting with the field trip was future Trans States pilot Adam Lange.  Adam, who is part of Trans States’ Aviators program for aspiring collegiate pilots, enjoyed the chance to teach people about the airline industry.  “I don’t remember ever having an opportunity like this when I was in school,” he admits. “It’s important that kids know about the options that exist in their own hometown.”

Trans States Chief Operating Officer Fred Oxley couldn’t be happier about the annual visit from the McCluer students.  “As an industry, it is our duty to inspire the next generation of aviators,”  he said.  “In the coming years, I hope to encounter these students flying our planes, fixing our planes, and serving our passengers.”

To learn more about career opportunities at Trans States, please click here.

Mechanic Chris Gage Goes Above and Beyond to Reunite Lost Wallet with its Owner

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When maintenance found a wallet on one of our aircraft without any contact details for the owner, Trans States mechanic Chris Gage went above and beyond to track down the owner.

As the former CEO of Baxter International, and now a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg school of Management, I was truly surprised about something that recently happened to me.  I was on a United flight in one of your planes from Chicago to Charlotte, and when I arrived at my hotel, I discovered I had lost my wallet for the first time in 50 years. 

I called United, they searched the plane and found nothing.  I was going to cancel all of my credit cards and stop payment on the several checks in my wallet, but I was running to give a speech and didn’t have time. Since my phone number was not in my wallet, I gave up hope. To my complete surprise, the next day I received a call from Chris Gage.

He told me that one of his colleagues had found the wallet, and he wanted to send it to me ASAP.  When I asked how he located me, he stated that he had tried a number of ways to track me down, and when he found an AAA card in the wallet, he called them and was able to obtain my mobile number. 

I have never met Chris Gage, but he struck me as a true values-based person, someone the world clearly needs more of. 

When I thanked him, he told me he was just doing his job and didn’t need to be thanked.

Chris represents the values that drive us as a company – integrity, honesty, and perseverance.  Chris is just one of hundreds of Trans States employees around the country going above and beyond for our passengers each and every day.

Trans States and Southwestern Illinois College Collaborate to Prepare Students for Aviation Careers

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A SWIC Academic Advisor gets a demonstration of the state-of-the-art simulators used by Trans States pilots.

Interested in a career in aviation?  Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) offers a number of affordable aviation career programs, including Aviation Management, Aviation Maintenance Technology, and Aviation Pilot Training.  These programs have been designed to prepare students to jump right into their chosen field upon completion of their coursework.  “Our biggest focus is for students to be comfortable, as well as successful, in the airline training environment by the end of a two to four-year program,” says Keith Mueller, Coordinator of Aviation Flight Management at SWIC.

When SWIC aviation instructors want to show their students how their work in the classroom relates to their future careers, they bring their students to our corporate headquarters in St. Louis, for a behind-the-scenes look at the skills required to land a job at a commercial airline.

A typical visit includes a tour of the Trans States maintenance hangar and a demonstration of the state-of-the-art simulators that our pilots use during training.  Students also have the opportunity to meet company leadership, as well as talk with our various training departments about what a commercial airline will expect of them.

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“These visits are incredibly valuable because they allow students to make a connection between what they’re learning in class and the skills that will be required in their chosen field,” explains Keith Stamper, Director of Flight Operations at Trans States.  For example, when touring our maintenance hangar, students in SWIC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program can actually see Trans States mechanics utilizing the skills that they’re studying in school.

These visits are also valuable to SWIC faculty, as they help ensure that the skills taught in class are consistent with current industry standards.  Aviation is an ever-changing industry, which means that aviation training programs must be able to quickly change with the times.  SWIC’s relationship with Trans States ensures that SWIC instructors are always up-to-speed on the latest training and skills that airlines will expect of their graduates, allowing them to adapt their courses accordingly.

SWIC Academic Advisors also get the same behind-the-scene tour as students and instructors.  Academic Advisors are usually a student’s first point of contact with the school, and are responsible for helping students navigate the different program offerings.  “Our Academic Advisors tour Trans States so that they can better understand how our aviation programs will prepare students for the airline industry,” Mueller explains.  “We feel that these tours have been tremendously successful.”

SWIC’s partnership with Trans States couldn’t have come at a better time.  Demand for aviation careers, especially pilots and mechanics, is at an all-time high, and that demand is expected to rise even higher in the coming years.  Boeing estimates that to keep up with demand, the aviation industry will need to generate over 600,000 commercial pilots and 679,000 aircraft maintenance technicians before the year 2035.

There’s never been a better time to launch a career in aviation.  If you’re looking for an affordable aviation training program that will prepare you for an exciting and in-demand career, contact SWIC today.  We’re looking forward to hiring you when you finish.

Trans States Mechanics Form Local Floor Hockey Team

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The type of hockey that most of us are familiar with has few non-negotiable requirements.  Ice, for one, and skates.  And knowing how to skate is usually pretty helpful.  However, a group of Trans States mechanics has discovered that you don’t have to know how to skate, or even own a pair of ice skates, to play hockey.  They play floor hockey as part of a local St. Louis floor hockey league.

While floor hockey players use sticks to get a puck into a net guarded by a goalie, that’s where the similarity to ice hockey ends.  There’s no ice in sight in floor hockey – teams typically play in gymnasiums – and floor hockey players simply wear shoes and run around, rather than using ice skates.

Heavy Check Supervisor Mark Hicks got the idea to start the team after seeing a video for St. Louis Floor Hockey on the internet.  Our maintenance hangar is in St. Louis, home of the Blues professional hockey team, and Mark knew that a lot of mechanics were interested in hockey, even if they’d never played before.  Mark first pitched the idea of a team to Line Lead Mechanic Levi Mcquery, who initially thought that he was too old for floor hockey.  However, once he watched the video, which explained that most of the teams were comprised of college students or co-workers, and that some of the players had never even played hockey before, he was sold.  Before long, Mark had rounded up a team of 10 mechanics, all from the St. Louis hangar.

Half of the team had never even touched a hockey stick before, let alone played on a team. “One mechanic had never played hockey before in his life,” says Mark, “and he still tried it out, and loved it.”  But even with so many hockey newbies, Line  Inspector Bill Reese is confident that their team is making progress, remarking, “I think we get better every game!”

“I would never bet on us, though,” chimes in Levi, laughing, “and I’m always making stupid bets on professional ice hockey, like having to shave ‘Red Wings’ in the back of my head.”

The league’s no checking rules means that floor hockey isn’t nearly as physical as ice hockey, which Mark points out is great for people who have day jobs.  “We can’t exactly get too physical at a night game when we all have work the next day.”

The team has already experienced some memorable plays. “I got us our first ever penalty,” laughs Bill, “and I still don’t agree with it.

Other mechanics from the hangar don’t play, but still come out to watch.  And if they want to try it for themselves before committing to a team, league rules make it easy for them to give it a shot and see how they like it  – anyone can play a single game as a substitute for only $10.

Feel up to the challenge?  Check out the St. Louis Floor Hockey website to get started.

Employee Appreciation Week 2016

Fall doesn’t just bring cooler temperatures and changing leaves – at Trans States Airlines, fall also brings our annual Employee Appreciation Week celebration!  This week-long event, packed with food, games, and prizes, is our way of saying thank you to our employees for all of their hard work  This year’s festivities wrapped up last Friday, and everyone is still talking about all of the fun they had.

One of the best things about Employee Appreciation Week is the food!  Base Managers at all of our crew bases spent the week making sure that our crews were well fed.  Our Raleigh crew had a smorgasbord of sweets on Monday, followed by breakfast sandwiches, sandwich rolls, tacos and pizza.

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Taco Thursday at our Raleigh-Durham crew base

Brenton Daniels, the Denver Base Manager, took advantage of the nice weather to barbecue for employees right on the ramp!

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Brenton shows us an innovative new way to cook beans!

We also gave away a FitBit at each crew base!  Congratulations to Captain Jorge Velasquez, who won the FitBit given away in St. Louis!

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At the St. Louis headquarters on Tuesday, corporate leaders threw a “come as you are” breakfast (which was pajamas for many) for all employees, complete with a caricature booth and balloon artist.  The leadership team manned griddles and hotplates, and served up an impressive spread that included sausage, eggs, pancakes, and even a smoothie bar.

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Other events throughout the week included the very popular “Take Your Dog To Work Day,”

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a gourmet cupcake truck,

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and a friendly game of Family Feud that pitted Trans States employees against employees of our sister carrier, GoJet Airlines.

One of the biggest events of the week was the annual washers tournament.  This year was the tournament’s biggest year yet, with 35 teams participating.  Our Maintenance department has established a washers dynasty over the years, and many teams from other departments were eager to de-throne them. However, Maintenance remained dominant again this year, and we again had a Maintenance vs. Maintenance championship game!

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Maintenance was again dominant on Friday, winning the annual tug-of-war competition between Maintenance Hangar and the corporate office.

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Rick Leach congratulates the Maintenance team on beating the corporate in tug-of-war (again).

On Friday, employees also enjoyed a barbecue

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a mini-classic car show (we have some employees with really cool cars!).

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and an afternoon of “knockerball.”

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Employee Appreciation Week 2016 was definitely one to remember!  We’re already looking forward to next year!

 

Maintenance Controllers Critical Component of Operational Success

At any given moment, there are hundreds of Trans States Airlines employees working behind the scenes to ensure the safe operation of our airline. Unlike more visible front-line employees, like pilots or flight attendants, our passengers will never meet these employees or have the opportunity to thank them for their efforts.  But every day, these un-sung heroes are working tirelessly to make sure that our passengers get to their destinations safely.  One of these individuals is Maintenance Control Supervisor Chris Hoover.

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Maintenance Control Supervisor Chris Hoover

Maintenance Controllers are licensed A & P mechanics who troubleshoot aircraft mechanical issues for pilots flying the line and mechanics at out stations.  If a pilot encounters a mechanical issue with an aircraft, their first call is to Maintenance Control. Often, Maintenance Control can walk the pilot through the issue over the phone, which frees up out-station mechanics for more involved repairs.  If it’s a more complicated problem, Maintenance Control will diagnose the likely source of the problem and recommended a course of action to local mechanics.

“Maintenance Controllers are critical to on-time performance, ” said Trans States Airlines Director of Maintenance, Matt Wright.  “In addition to assisting and providing detailed information to our technicians in the field, the Maintenance Control group is responsible for all deferred maintenance activity, scheduling short-term preventative maintenance, monitoring and repair of repeat maintenance activity, troubleshooting and repair of outstation aircraft, and a host of other less visible maintenance activities. The decisions made by this group don’t just affect a single aircraft but the entire fleet.”

Unlike our hangar and line mechanics, who are outside fixing aircraft in the snow, the heat, and everything in between, our Maintenance Controllers are part of Systems Operations Control (SOC) in our St. Louis headquarters building.  That’s because the other departments in the SOC, including Crew  Scheduling and Dispatch, rely on information from Maintenance Control to make important decisions that affect the operation. For example, if a flight is delayed due to a maintenance issue, Maintenance Control communicates the estimated back in service time to Crew Scheduling and Dispatch so that the departure can be re-scheduled and re-crewed, if necessary.

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Chris started working for Trans States as a licensed A & P mechanic right out of college, and spent his first three years with the company working in the St. Louis hangar facility.  He then spent two years as a mechanic on the flight line before making the move to Maintenance Control.  He says that a few different factors, including pay and the opportunity to work indoors, led him to made the move to Maintenance Control.

“I thought about staying on the line, but I was ready for a change, and there was a pay increase with the Maintenance Controller position,” Chris remarked.  “Plus, I get to do the same work as a mechanic in the field, but I’m away from the elements, which is nice.” Chris takes a lot of pride in his position and says that the Trans States Maintenance Control group is, “top-notch and knowledgeable, and has a real understanding of the Embraer 145 aircraft.”

Vice President of Tech Ops, Rob Truax, agrees.  “Our Maintenance Control team represents some of our very best maintenance talent.  You really have to be at the top of your game, professionally, to work in Maintenance Control.”

If you’re a licensed and experienced A & P mechanic and are looking for a new challenge, there’s never been a better time to explore career opportunities in Maintenance Control.  In fact, Trans States is currently offering a $12,000 retention bonus to all current and new hire Maintenance Controllers.  To learn more or apply online, please click here.

Former Marine Turned Aircraft Mechanic and College Student: Meet Brandi Rector

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Trans States Airlines Aircraft Mechanic Brandi Rector

Before becoming a aircraft mechanic for Trans States Airlines, Brandi Rector spent six years in the United States Marine Corps as a helicopter aerial gunner and mechanic.  Now she dedicates her time to ensuring that our aircraft operate safely and efficiently, all while attending full-time classes at Saint Louis University.

Brandi didn’t originally plan on an airline job when leaving the military.  After her last deployment, Brandi returned home to St. Louis with plans to become a police officer. However, she soon found herself back in aviation after being hired by helicopter manufacturing company Sikorsky. “It was a desk job,” explains Brandi, “and after coming home from my deployment, sitting at a desk all day was making me stir crazy.  Then I learned about Saint Louis University’s helicopter pilot program.”

Saint Louis University, in partnership with Midwest Helicopter, offers a helicopter training program that can be paired with any undergraduate degree. Brandi began the program in the fall of 2015, and is set to graduate in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautics, with a focus in Aviation Management.  When she graduates, she will also be an FAA-certified helicopter pilot, with private, commercial, instructor and  instrument ratings.

While Brandi receives much of her academic funding through the G.I. Bill, it doesn’t cover everything.  Luckily, Brandi had earned her Airframe & PowerPlant license while in the military, which enabled her to  supplement her G.I. funding by becoming a Trans States Airlines aircraft mechanic. There’s no danger of Brandi going stir crazy from sitting behind a desk at this job – she’s up and moving throughout her entire shift. As a heavy check mechanic, Brandi performs scheduled inspections on aircraft once they reach a certain number of hours.  “We perform top-to-bottom aircraft checks and inspections on everything from oxygen masks and engine components, to flight control cables and hydraulic systems,” she explains.  “We check everything to make sure the aircraft continues to stay safe for flight.”

Brandi enjoys the variety that her job brings.  “In the Marines, I worked strictly on engines and gear boxes,” she said.  “But at Trans Sates, I get to work on everything.”  She went on to remark, “I’ve got to say, I really enjoy my job.  Everyone that I work with is incredibly nice, friendly, and helpful.”

Brandi is busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.  “It’s tough,” she says, “but it doesn’t matter if I don’t have much free time, because I love what I do. I feel rewarded knowing that all the work that I do provides safety for so many people who travel, and I feel accomplished when I make straight-A’s after studying so much and so hard.” Brandi also emphasizes the importance of having a strong support system.  “My dad provided a lot of encouragement that helped me when I needed it. So, no matter what you decide to do, make sure you have the support you need.”

When she’s not working or studying, Brandi has several animals that she enjoys taking care of. “I’m working on building a barn right now,” she explains, “which will be for my horse. I also have two huskies, and I recently rescued a kitten.”  She also became a member of Women With Wings, the St. Louis chapter of Women in Aviation, in April. “It’s a great group for networking,” she says,” and they’re starting to do a lot more charity events.  After I receive my instructor rating, I’ll hopefully be able to pilot some charity flights for them, as well as for the Whirly-Girls, an association of women helicopter pilots.”

We’re proud that Brandi has chosen to share her talents with us, and we couldn’t be more impressed by everything that she’s accomplished.  If you’ve got an A & P license and a desk job isn’t for you, give us a call.  We offer skilled maintenance professionals like Brandi top-tier pay, and we pay extra for experience.  We’d love to talk to you about everything our company has to offer.  Click  here to learn more.

New LED Lighting in Hangar Equates to $34,000 Rebate

Recently Trans States Airlines replaced the high-usage lighting in the maintenance hangar with more energy efficient LED lighting.  As a result, the company was eligible to participate in Ameren Missouri’s BizSavers program, which offers cash incentives to business that implement cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy solutions.

“Trans States is always trying to be more environmentally conscious and energy efficient,” said Matt Wright, Director of Maintenance for Trans States.  “And an added benefit is that the new LED lights have saved us a considerable amount of money on the hangar’s electric bill.”  The installation of the LED lights ultimately equated to a rebate of over $30,000, which Ameren Missouri representatives presented to Matt and Trans States Airlines President & CEO Rick Leach earlier this week.

Ameren also offers a variety of cash rebates to homeowners who make environmentally friendly updates to their homes. Ameren will also haul away your old fridge or freeze for free, plus pay you $50.00, just for letting them take it off your hands.  To learn more about how you can earn money by saving money, visit https://www.ameren.com/missouri/uefficiency.

Trans States Mechanics Go Above and Beyond

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A big thanks to Trans States mechanics Bryan Kalwei and Eric Ratliff for going above and beyond to assist with the 805HK lease return.  We received this 4th Quarter Above & Beyond nomination from Scott Reid:

I would like to put Bryan Kalwei, and Eric Ratliff in for the Above and Beyond program. These two mechanics were scheduled to help with 805HK lease end by flying with the aircraft on Friday morning 10-31-14 and perform two Boroscopes at a outstation for the lessor to close the lease. The aircraft had mechanical issues on Friday, and they both stayed late trying to fix it. They both returned to work early Saturday morning and helped fix the aircraft and flew with it to Gary, Indiana. Due to the late arrival time. they could not finish the aircraft on Saturday and continued to work through Sunday evening to ensure we closed the lease.  These two mechanics showed great initiative in helping the company finish the aircraft.

Bryan and Eric will be entered in the 4th quarter Above & Beyond contest and are each in the running to win a $50 Visa gift card.  Great job, guys!

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Today we’d like to recognize Brant Wilhelm with the Trans States MX department.  Brandt was nominated for an Above & Beyond award by his fellow Maintenance team members.  Here’s what they had to say about Brandt:

Brandt demonstrated remarkable individual performance in very inclement weather conditions while re-torquing windshield fasteners to return our aircraft to service in a timely fashion. Brandt showed in his above and beyond actions that he valued our companies desire to achieve an on-time departure and provide our customers a superior product. Therefore, I believe through his actions alone that he deserve this Above and Beyond nomination, and I’m glad to have him in our Trans States maintenance team.

Thanks for your hard work, Brandt!  Brandt will be entered in the third quarter Above & Beyond contest in the Maintenance category.  The winner of the third quarter Maintenance category will win a $50 Visa gift card and will be entered to win the Employee of the Year contest at the end of the year.

The deadline to submit third quarter entries is September 30!

Way to go, Trans States MX!

way to goCongrats to the Trans States MX Department!  Trans States was the top performing United Regional Carrier in the Aircraft Cleanliness category for the month of August.  This ranking is based on customer comments received by United, and it’s the first time that Trans States has taken the highest score in this category.  A big thanks to our MX Department for all of their hard work that got us to #1.  United and our customers are noticing!

Scotty Allen of Maintenance Goes Above & Beyond

We would to send a big thank you to Scotty Allen in Maintenance in Chicago for exceeding our airlines’ standards with his superior teamwork and for giving priority to operational performance.  After completing a Maintenance road trip, he volunteered to fly with a repositioned flight to St. Louis to perform some needed maintenance work at our hangar.  Thanks again Scotty!