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.

Year in Review – Our Favorite Posts from 2016

We had a busy 2016!  We introduced you to some one-of-a-kind people and highlighted some extraordinary happenings within our company.  Let’s take a look back to some of our favorite posts from TRANSmissions this past year.

Preparing for Your First Part 121 Ground School – An Instructor’s Perspective

In what was far and away our most read and shared blog entry of the year, Trans States Airlines Flight Instruction Manager Paul Epperson shares his tips and advice for what to expect and how to prepare for the adjustment into 121 ground school.

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Trans States Provides Simulated Flight Experience for Children with Autism

Some of our Raleigh-based crew members had the opportunity to be a part of a very special event co-sponsored by American Airlines and the Autism Society of North Carolina.  The event simulated the airport experience for children with autism so that they would know what to expect the first time they boarded a commercial flight.  The children also had the opportunity to board a Trans States Embraer 145, and were shown exactly what would happen during the first 20 minutes of a real flight.

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Shriners Debut Aviation-Themed Parade Float, With Help of Trans States Employee

Trans States’ Sam Curless helped the St. Louis Shriners Air Patrol when they were in dire need of a new parade float. Through his connections, Sam was able to help organize a build of a new float, made out of an Embraer 145 fuselage. The float made its debut at the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade to an excited crowd, and a group of Shriners kids who got to ride it for the first time!

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Trans States VP of Safety Marks 70th Birthday by Flying 70th Aircraft Type

Trans States Airlines Vice President of Safety Craig Tompkins recently accomplished a pretty lofty goal that he’d set for himself in 2014 – to fly 70 different aircraft before his 70th birthday.  Craig reached his milestone right on time, flying aircraft type #70, a Cessna 170 on floats, just before his 70th birthday in October.

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Former Marine Turned Aircraft Mechanic and College Student: Meet 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.

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We’ll be back in 2017 with more posts dedicated to the extraordinary individuals who call Trans States home.  Happy New Year!

 

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.