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!

Compass Flight Attendants Spend Vacation Giving Back

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Compass flight attendants Judy Champa and Sarah Perdue

This spring, two Compass flight attendants spent their vacation time doing something decidedly different than relaxing on a beach or catching up on sleep.  Judy Champa and Sarah Perdue used their vacation time to travel to Guatemala and help build a house for a family in need.

Judy and Sarah traveled to Guatemala as part of the God’s Child Project, a non-denominational initiative dedicated to fighting poverty around the globe.  God’s Child’s work in Guatemala includes the Dreamer Center in the city of Antigua, which provides health care, education, and crisis intervention services to the local population, as well as Casa Jackson, a hospital that cares for severely malnourished infants and children.   God’s Child also operates a homeless shelter, an orphanage, a drug treatment center, and numerous other educational programs for impoverished children across Guatemala.  Volunteers from all over the world travel to Guatemala to help God’s Child provide services ranging from feeding and rocking babies, to teaching orphans and building homes.

Judy and Sarah were part of a team of God’s Child volunteers tasked with building a home for a family, who was at the time, living in a hut made of sugarcane stalks with a dirt floor.  It took a lot of hard work, but the team was able to finish the family’s new home in just three days.

On day one, the volunteers dug a trench for the house’s foundation, which was made of three layers of brick and mortar.

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On day two, wood was cut to frame the house, and volunteers mixed and poured concrete for the floor.  “All tools were powered by pure muscle,” Judy said.  “Mixing concrete by hand is an arduous job but well worth it – a concrete floor versus a dirt floor can cut disease by up to 70%,” she added.

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On day three, the volunteers put the finishing touches on the house, including the signature blue paint that identifies houses built by the God’s Child organization.  A door and window were installed, as well as gutters to guide the rain away from the new home.

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“Turning over the house was quite emotional for the family, as well as for volunteers,” Judy said.  “The family presented each volunteer with a handmade card expressing their gratitude for their hard work.”

In addition to building the home, the volunteers took advantage of their time in Guatemala to tour the local God’s Child facilities, including the Dreamer Center and Casa Jackson.  They also distributed clothing to about 200 families (clothing for donation is brought by the many volunteers in their checked bags), and served dinner to the homeless at the project’s Santa Madre Homeless Shelter.

Both Judy and Sarah plan to return to Guatemala next March, and encourage anyone interested in volunteering to join them.  International volunteer work is a great fit for airline employees, as most organizations require volunteers to pay for their own airfare.  Sarah and Judy used their flight benefits to fly to Guatemala, and each paid just over $50 each way.  Judy flew on American (RNO/LAX/MIA/GUA), while Sarah flew American on the way there (DFW/GUA), and Delta on the way back (GUA/ATL).

To learn more about how you can get involved with this worthy organization, please visit godschild.org.

Meet Tech Ops Superstar and Aspiring Commercial Pilot, Tatyana Gogova

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Tatyana Gogova, superstar employee and future commercial pilot.

Our Tech Ops team works tirelessly to ensure that our operation is safe, efficient, and on-time.  An invaluable member of that team is Los Angeles (LAX) Maintenance Base Administrator, Tatyana Gogova.  Recently Tatyana was the recipient of a Compass Airlines “Above and Beyond” award for going beyond what her job requires of her to provide outstanding service to her co-workers.

“Tatyana is pivotal to the functionality of the LAX Tech Ops team,” remarked Bo Curtis, the Director of Quality at Compass.  “She works tirelessly to ensure that our mechanics are shielded from distractions so they can focus on providing the best possible product to our passengers.”  In addition to ordering mechanic uniforms and handling payroll for the Compass LAX maintenance group, Tatyana also helps recruit new mechanics and assists with interviews.  Additionally, Tatyana has voluntarily undertaken the monumental task of coordinating Los Angeles Airport SIDA badges for Compass employees that need them.

A Security Identification Display Area badge, or SIDA badge, gives employees access to the secure side of the airport, as well as the ramp area.  SIDA badges are very tightly controlled, and each SIDA badge that is issued requires multiple appointments with LAX airport authorities, as well as extensive paperwork, training and a background check.  If a Compass employee needs a LAX SIDA badge, Tatyana walks them through the process, start to finish.

“It’s complicated,” Tatyana admits.  “I make an appointment for each applicant to go to LAX to and have their fingerprints taken, and then they must wait for clearance.  Once an employee is approved, I train them on what their SIDA badge allows them to do.  I then set up another appointment for them to actually receive their badge.”  Tatyana does all this not only for Compass LAX maintenance employees, but for all Compass employees who need a LAX SIDA badge.

Given the extent of her efforts, it’s no surprise that Tatyana was nominated for an Above & Beyond award.  When she found out that she had won in the Tech Ops category, she was surprised and excited, remarking,

“It was amazing, and I was super surprised!  But it’s easy to work with people when you’re friends. Our work is very critical, but no matter how much we have to do, it always goes smoothly if we all get along and understand each other.”

Originally from Bulgaria, Tatyana speaks four languages, including English, Bulgarian, Russian, and Arabic.  In her free time, Totyana loves to travel, which is what led her to pursue a career in aviation.  An airline employee to her core, she loves to use to use her travel benefits, and in her free time, she’s usually on a plane.  In fact, she loves being in the air so much that she recently started working on her private pilot’s license, and hopes to fly commercially in the future.

With her incredible work ethic and genuine love of flying, Tatyana represents the values that drive us as a company.  We have no doubt that she’ll achieve anything that she puts her mind to!