Senior Leader Profile: Bob Gleason

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Compass Airlines Chief Operating Officer, Robert (Bob) Gleason

Compass COO Bob Gleason has been in the aviation industry for nearly 40 years, and has a long and diverse resume to show for it. As Chief Operating Officer of Compass Airlines, Bob leads a team of over 2,000 employees and has operational oversight over every aspect of the airline’s performance. Our team had a moment to sit with Bob to learn more about his leadership style, his experiences, and powerful books he recommends for current and aspiring aviation professionals. Read what Bob had to share below:

Bob, can you tell us about your role as COO of Compass Airlines?

Compass is a premiere regional airline operating on behalf of Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. We serve over 6.5 million passengers a year and operate more than 240 flights a day. My role is to ensure that our operations run smoothly.

What made you want to pursue a career in aviation?

My Dad was a significant role model in my life and motivated my desire to pursue Aviation. He worked at TWA as a mechanic. When I was a child, we would go to watch planes like the Flying Tigers. His passion and commitment peaked my interest into the airline business. Throughout my career, I’ve spent over 30 years with Northwest Airlines, holding progressively responsible senior leadership positions in the areas of Maintenance, Quality, Tech Ops, and Safety. When Northwest merged with Delta Air Lines, I became a senior contractor for Delta, handling parts integration for the Delta and Northwest fleets. During my tenure at Delta, I went on to hold the positions of Chief Inspector and Director of Quality. Now, as the COO at Compass I’m enjoy leading the finest group of aviation professionals each day.

What are the most important decisions that you face daily as a leader within Compass?

Some of the larger decisions that we face today revolve around pilot recruiting. As a regional pathway airline, we send a significant number of pilots to major airlines. The need to attract qualified pilots regularly keeps signing bonuses, and compensation decisions on the table. Other important daily considerations include our return on investment across platforms, recruiting maintenance professionals, and continued overall performance excellence for our partners.

How do you maintain your team’s daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles?

I live by the quote that says “Tell the truth, and tell me early!” We have open and honest weekly meetings where I review daily operations and listen to understand the many factors that impact our flight schedules. Weather for example can be a challenge to navigate at times, but I’m very conscious at making sure everyone knows where we are operationally, and where we stand among the competition. I like to be number one, and with one of our partners we are consistently leading the pack. When we all work together to produce stellar results, it reflects well on everyone.

How would you describe the Compass culture to a new employee?

At Compass we are safe, we take care of our customers, and last but not least, we have fun! Our staff and crews look forward to coming to work. We work hard, so I always look for a reason to celebrate. If we set a record, I make sure that we celebrate.

What books have you read that left a lasting impact on your leadership and/or life in aviation?

If you visit my office you’ll see one of my favorite quotes from Abraham Lincoln that says “ Be Strong. Always choose truth over popularity.” A few of my favorite reads include Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch, and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. While these books aren’t aviation specific, they have lots of lessons that could be implemented into the type of work we do each day.

“If you visit our company headquarters in MSP, please stop by! My office is open. I encourage our teams to speak up and share their opinion. I have an open door, so feel free to pop in with a cup of coffee,” Bob said.

For more information on Compass Airlines, visit compassairline.com.

Flight Attendant Marlon Singleton Shares His Dream to Fly

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LAX-based Flight Attendant, Marlon Singleton.

From New Orleans to now calling Los Angeles—The City of Dreams home, Compass Airlines Flight Attendant Marlon Singleton shares the moment he knew that a career in the sky was perfect for him.

What inspired you to become a flight attendant with Compass Airlines?

I quickly discovered in college that Kinesiology, the major that I had chosen, was not quite my passion. I loved music, helping people, and lived my life as a socialite. When I came across the opportunity to fly for Compass, I knew that I loved to travel and would enjoy meeting new people each day.  However, it wasn’t until my five-week training in Minneapolis that I saw flight attendants in a new light. The job isn’t what you see. The role is chameleon-like and I gained a new respect for the varied work that flight attendants do each day. This is why I completed the program and I’m still a flight attendant today!

“My high school counselor told me to find a career that I loved so that it wouldn’t feel like work.”

What do you love best about Compass?

Mainline carriers have approached me, but I love the small family atmosphere and camaraderie at Compass. You are not a number. I like and appreciate that!  With our phones, we have the world at our fingertips, and as a flight attendant for Compass Airlines, I can literally travel the world and truly have it at my fingertips.  Being a flight attendant is a lifestyle. I love the lifestyle.

 “Whatever you do, do it well! At Compass, we are a team and each person needs the next one to perform well as a unit.

What would you tell children who dream a career in aviation?

Aviation is a great industry with lots of longevity! Whether you want to be a graphic designer or pilot there is a place for you. For me, coming to work at Compass each day feels like I’m going to hang out with some friends. I have the opportunity to have the entire globe at my fingertips. The opportunities are endless, and I’m glad to be a part of this amazing team and network of thinkers.

Tuition Reimbursement Program Eases Transition to the Commercial Flight Deck

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Compass First Officer and ATP Flight School Alum Kevin Wickstrom

The ATP Flight School tuition reimbursement program is one of the best deals out there for aspiring commercial pilots.  Through this program, Compass provides up to $11,000 in tuition reimbursement to ATP student pilots who commit to flying for Compass after completing their hours working as an ATP flight instructor.  First Officer Kevin Wickstrom is a former ATP flight instructor who took advantage of this program, and below he explains why Compass and ATP were a perfect fit for him.

What is your background in aviation?

I love being in the sky.  I am a third generation pilot who, like many of my friends, grew up in the industry.  It took me a while to figure out this was what I was looking for, but once I went on my discovery flight in Hawaii, I was hooked.

Why did you want to fly for Compass Airlines?

Compass was my first choice when it came to deciding on a regional airline. Its West Coast base locations, fast upgrade times, and professional reputation were among the many reasons I felt Compass was a perfect fit.  I was raised in Hawaii and California, so naturally the West Coast feels the most like home.  The upgrade times and attrition rate to the majors also aligned with my personal career goals.  I had heard that Compass produces excellent and competent pilots, that the crews are respectful and considerate of each other and their passengers, and the pilots enjoy working there.  I’ve found Compass’ all of this to be true.

What made you decide to choose ATP Flight School for your training?

I was looking around at different flight schools, but what drew me to ATP was the fast pace and the direct track to the airlines. My time as an instructor was rewarding and educational on many levels, and assisted me in this next stage of my career.

Describe your experience in utilizing the tuition reimbursement program through Compass’ partnership with ATP.

The ATP tuition reimbursement program was very beneficial to me as an instructor.  I think what’s most important is how it helps us on a personal level. I went through my training at ATP Phoenix, and like most students, I took out a significant chunk of change to invest in my future.  This program eased some of the stress of balancing my loan and my personal expenses.  It has made the transition from flight instructor to airline pilot significantly smoother.

To learn more about the ATP Tuition Reimbursement Program, please click here.

Compass Captain Leads Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

 

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The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has left thousands struggling to rebuild. Compass Captain Andrew Bennett was part of a team of volunteers who visited some of the hardest hit areas after the storm, with a goal of helping local residents take the first steps towards rebuilding their lives.

Andrew and his team of volunteers focused their efforts on the towns of Aransas Pass and Rockport, both of which sustained heavy damage during Harvey.  Over a weekend, Andrew and his 18-person team logged a total of 288 man hours, along side an army of others including the Red Cross, utility workers, local charities, and religious organizations.

Their work included transporting donated relief supplies, including food and water, to the people who needed them the most, along with removing debris so electric and water companies could re-establish desperately needed utilities.  The group also constructed a geodesic dome, which was used for supply storage.  The dome kept the much needed supplies out of the Texas sun, while also giving volunteers and others a reprieve from the heat and mosquitos.

 

Andrew found that working directly with disaster victims posed a unique challenge. “Some are willing to take you up on your assistance, but others are in denial or shock after living through a disaster. They’re not willing to accept help that requires removing their home or belongings if they haven’t fully accepted what has happened to them yet.  You don’t want to alienate someone by approaching them the wrong way, so you have to learn how to properly communicate with people.”

While he has returned to the flight line, Andrew is already making tentative plans to return to the disaster area in the near future.  He hopes to help electricians and contractors to rebuild and repair homes and other structures that were damaged during the storm.

If you would like to get involved in relief efforts, other organizations doing important work to help Harvey victims include the food banks of Corpus Christi and Houston, the Texas Workers Relief Fund, and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

In Compass Dispatch, Communication is Priority Number One

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Dispatcher Edison Konold

At any given moment, there are hundreds of Compass employees working behind the scenes to ensure the safe operation of our airline.  One of those individuals is dispatcher Edison Konold.  A Minneapolis native and self-described “aviation nerd,” Edison was working for a commercial aircraft fueling company when he stumbled upon a Compass dispatcher opening online.  One year later, he can’t imagine being anywhere else.

My first year at Compass has been extremely rewarding.  I knew right away that this was going to be the professional family I was looking for.  Bob Gleason, the Chief Operating Officer, personally welcomed me on day one, and I’ve felt at home ever since.”

As a dispatcher, Edison has a lot on his plate, including building flight plans.  A flight plan is the route that an aircraft takes to get from its departure point to its final destination. To build a flight plan, dispatchers must take into account a number of factors, including weather conditions, airspace restrictions and airport conditions.

However, there’s more to getting a flight off the ground than building a flight plan.  Before a flight can take off, Dispatch checks with Maintenance to ensure that the aircraft is safe to fly, and with Crew Scheduling to confirm that the crew assigned to the flight has had the required amount of rest and can legally operate the flight.  Dispatchers are also in constant contact with Air Traffic Control for airport delays and weather updates.

“Dispatch is the heart of the airline,” explains Edison, “and communication is priority number one.”

When a dispatcher is confident that all of the pieces for a safe flight are in place—a safe flight path, a well-rested crew and a mechanically-sound aircraft—they initiate a flight release.  The flight release is the legal document that allows a flight to take off, and it must be signed by both a dispatcher and the Captain of the flight.  It signifies that both the dispatcher and the Captain agree that the flight can be completed legally and safely.

But things can change, even after a flight has taken off.  Sometimes a flight has to deviate from its flight plan.  A flight may not be able to land at its intended destination for  variety of reasons, ranging from weather or airport congestion, to a sick passenger.  When that happens, a dispatcher will help determine the safest course of action, which may involve rerouting the flight around weather or diverting to an alternate airport to accommodate a sick passenger.  If a flight is rerouted, Dispatch determines if the aircraft has enough fuel to accommodate the extra time in the air.  If not, it advises the pilots where to land for additional fuel.

All Dispatch personnel must obtain an FAA dispatch license, which includes 200 hours of training from an FAA-approved flight school.  Coursework covers everything from aeronautical charts and the national airspace system, to FAA regulations and weather theory.   “To work in Dispatch, you need a background in aeronautical knowledge, including charts and systems,” Edison explained.  “Some of us have also meteorology degrees, which is especially helpful for weather-related aircraft routing during the winter months, as well as understanding runway conditions.”

Are you looking for a challenging and exciting career?  We just might have an opening that’s the perfect fit for you.  Click here to learn more.

 

Flight Attendant Jill Aguirre Goes the Extra Mile to Reunite Passenger with Lost Cell Phone

Jill-AguirreIn this day and age of near constant connectedness, many of us use our cell phones to manage nearly every aspect of our lives.  With everything from our email and calendar, to our favorite family photos living on one device, it’s no wonder that losing one’s cell phone generally leads to panic.

When flight attendant Jill Aguirre found a smartphone that a passenger had left behind on a Compass aircraft, her primary concern was getting the phone back to them as quickly as possible.  As the passenger was without a cell phone and possibly even internet access, Jill thought that it might be difficult for them to immediately file a lost item claim with customer service.  She decided to see if she could track the passenger down herself.

By calling the last number that the phone had dialed, she discovered that it belonged to a family that had just flown to Houston to start a vacation.  As luck would have it, Jill was getting ready to work a flight to El Paso.  In an amazing display of customer service, Jill took down the address of the hotel where the family was staying, and found a shipping store during her layover in El Paso.  The phone was on its way back to the family that very same day.  She even make sure to provide the family with the tracking information so that the family would know when to expect it.

Jill’s actions caught the attention of Compass Captain Paul Martin, who was with her when she found the phone.  “Jill knew how important it is to have technology on vacation to capture memories and stay connected,” he remarked.  “I was truly impressed by the time, effort, and personal money Jill spent to ensure that our customers were happy.”

Compass Sponsors 2017 Air Race Classic

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Image courtesy of Air Race Classic

Each summer, women pilots from around the country take to the skies for the annual Air Race Classic flying competition.  This four-day, cross-country race is considered the premier women’s air race event, and attracts an incredible caliber of pilots from a wide range of background and professions.

This year’s race, which ran from June 20-23, started in Frederick, Maryland and ended in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with 8 checkpoints in between. Teams must make flybys at each checkpoint en route to the final destination.

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Teams consist of a pilot and co-pilot, as well as up to two additional optional teammates to help distribute the flying.  A total of 46 teams competed in this year’s event, including 15 collegiate teams.  Teams may fly a wide variety of single or twin engine aircraft, with this year’s entrants flying planes ranging from Piper Cherokees and Cessna Skylanes, to Beechcraft Bonanzas and Cirrus SR20s.

The Air Race Classic is unique in that the winner isn’t the team that crosses the finish line first – in fact, the team crossing the finish last could be the winner.

Rather than racing against each other, teams race against a handicap speed assigned to their specific aircraft.  The object of the race is to have the actual ground speed (the horizontal speed of an aircraft relative to the ground) be as far over the handicap speed as possible.  The winning team is the one who beats their handicap speed by the largest margin, meaning that teams are essentially competing to see who can get the best performance out of their aircraft.  Since crossing the finish line first isn’t the objective, teams can fly around unfavorable weather conditions or even wait for weather to pass.

Compass has proudly played a role in this incredible event for the past two years.  In 2016, Compass sponsored a four-person team from the University of Minnesota Mankato.  Dubbed “The Wright Women,” the team was the school’s first ever Air Race Classic entry.

 

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This year, Compass was an overall sponsor of the race itself, as well as the post-race hiring fair for all racers.  “These women are hardworking, ambitious, and incredibly talented pilots,” explained Compass pilot recruiter Captain Lane Dulon.  “Pilots of this quality are exactly the type of individuals our recruiting team is looking for, which is why sponsoring an event like the Air Race Classic is such a great opportunity for Compass.”

If you’re ready to fly with the industry’s top talent, click here to connect with our pilot recruiters.

Hero Flight Attendant Puts Training in Action to Save a Life

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Hero Flight Attendant Keairra Moore

Compass flight attendant Keairra Moore was in the baggage claim area at LAX recently when she heard someone screaming for help.  A man in his early 60s was laying on the ground, his face and fingertips blue.  He had stopped breathing.  In the moments that followed, Keairra’s flight attendant training saved the man’s life.

Compass flight attendants must be prepared to deal with any type of emergency that they may encounter during a flight.  Before a Compass Flight Attendant is released from training, they must first undergo weeks of preparation that includes emergency equipment operation, self-defense, and life-saving techniques, including CPR.

While other passengers in the vicinity pulled out their cell phones to call 911, Keairra says that her instincts and training took over.  She asked another employee to find a defibrillator to re-start the man’s heart, while she started CPR chest compressions and rescue breaths.  She did CPR for around five minutes, until the other employee arrived with a defibrillator.

After the defibrillator was connected, the passenger regained consciousness.  Keairra kept him calm until the paramedics arrived, and even had the presence of mind to check and see if the passenger had any medications so she could have them ready for the paramedics.

“Keairra did a great job of calmly taking command of a stressful situation,” said Compass Inflight Supervisor Nicole Miller.  “The entire Compass family is so proud of her actions, which undoubtedly saved this man’s life.”

Compass Flight Attendants Prepare for Medical Emergencies at 40,000 Feet

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Compass Inflight Instructor Shelle Gustafson had the opportunity to listen in on MedAire calls from around the world at MedAire’s global response service center in Phoenix.

To the average passenger, it may seem like a flight attendant’s main responsibilities are serving drinks and demonstrating how to use the seatbelt properly.  However, there’s a lot more to it than that – flight attendants must also be prepared to deal with any emergency they may encounter during a flight.  Before a Compass flight attendant is released from training, they must first undergo weeks of preparation that includes emergency equipment operation, self-defense, and life-saving techniques, including CPR.

One of the most stressful situations that a flight attendant can face in the air is a passenger experiencing a medical emergency.  Flight attendants must stay calm and administer emergency medical treatment until the passenger stabilizes or until the flight is able to land.  If a passenger takes ill in the air, flight crews contact MedAire, an emergency response service that provides medical guidance remotely.  MedAire gauges the severity of the situation and advises the crew how to react – some passengers may only need fluids or oxygen administered, while more serious emergencies may justify diverting the flight.  Should a diversion be warranted, MedAire works with Compass pilots to determine where the flight should divert to, based on the passenger’s medical needs and the aircraft’s location at the time.

Compass Inflight Instructors like Elizabeth Blair are responsible for preparing student flight attendants for medical emergencies that they may face on the job.  Recently, Elizabeth and other Inflight Instructors traveled to Phoenix, where they spent two days receiving advanced training, as well as studying CPR and first aid, with MedAire emergency response experts.  While in Phoenix, the team also had the opportunity to observe MedAire’s global response service center, where communication specialists, emergency physicians, and nurses respond to inflight calls from around the world, ranging from minor to major medical emergencies.

The training highlighted just how important it is for Inflight Instructors to stay current on the most up-to-date emergency medical procedures – even an experienced Instructor like Elizabeth learned something new.  “I learned that there is a specific CPR position called airplane CPR,” she said, “which should be used when CPR is being given in the aisle of an airplane.”  Elizabeth found the training to be immensely valuable, and went on to remark

“As flight attendants, we must be empowered to make the best possible decisions when it comes to our passengers’ safety.  This training has enhanced our ability to do just that.  We are looking forward to incorporating what we learned into our flight attendant training program.”

If you love to travel, have exemplary customer service skills and stay cool under pressure, becoming a flight attendant could be a great fit for you.  Visit our website to learn more and apply online.

Compass Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of First Revenue Flight

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Compass’s original “fleet”

On this date in 2007, Compass’s first revenue flight took off from Washington-Dulles, bound for Minneapolis.  At that time, our fleet and route map looked quite a bit different than they do now.  From April through August of 2007, our “fleet” consisted of just one CRJ200 that flew two daily round trips between IAD and MSP.

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The original Compass route map

That lone CRJ200 was our entire fleet, until the E175, the aircraft that would become synonymous with the Compass name, came online in August of 2007.

In a message to employees to mark the 10-year anniversary, President and CEO Rick Leach outlined the remarkable growth that the company has seen in just 10 short years.

“That sole CRJ200 with just two daily round trips has grown into a fleet of 56 Embraer 175s operating over 280 daily departures to over 40 destinations.  We’ve transitioned from flying exclusively as Northwest Airlink/Delta Connection to serving two codeshare partners.  Our 2015 partnership with American Airlines to operate 20 new Embraer 175s increased our fleet size by 47% in less than a year, and resulted in a 36% increase in passenger traffic between 2015 and 2016.  We’re 2,000+ employees strong, and on track to carry over 6.5 million passengers in 2017.  Not bad for one of the youngest regionals out there!”

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The Compass route map today

To commemorate the big anniversary, special employee events, including cookouts and luncheons have been held system-wide over the past month.  The anniversary events will conclude with a gala event in Minneapolis at the end of May.  There are 43 founding members of the Compass family still working with us, and Rick Leach is looking forward to thanking each of them for their contributions to our airline.

Here’s to the next 10 years!