Steve Hennige Director of Aircraft Maintenance and RepairInterview with REAL’s new Director of Aircraft Maintenance

“Accountability is our Responsibility” is the new mantra forging open communications and proactivity among the maintenance team for Air Georgian and R1 Airlines. REAL’s new Director of Aircraft Maintenance, Steve Hennige is fostering and building a culture based on safety being a top priority, and the core to everything his team does to ensure a highly reliable product for customers and investors.

Steve’s role is to set direction with the maintenance teams, build consistencies between the Air Georgian and R1 Airlines operation while ensuring high standards in aircraft safety, reliability, performance and on-time delivery that meet or exceed all stakeholder expectations.

While Steve has been industriously implementing a full review of maintenance, we’ve managed to get some of his time for an interview. Here’s what he had to say:

What interested you in the role of Director of Maintenance for Regional Express Aviation (REAL)?

In 2011 I moved out of aviation and joined an automotive parts manufacturing company. Although, I learned a tremendous amount and was mentored by extraordinary people, I did not fully realize how passionate I was for the aviation industry. So coming back to where I first started in my career was an easy choice. I thrive stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing new challenges. This role touches on both of those. Seeing the growth potential under REAL, and the opportunity to expand on my aviation knowledge at a new level is appealing to me.

Why and/or how did you get into aircraft maintenance? What do you love about this line of work?

During a visit to a large Air Canada hangar in Winnipeg, I was mesmerized by the giant aircraft that surrounded me. I thought at that time, “how cool would it be to work on machines that defy the rationalization of gravity”. It wasn’t until 1997 when living in Thunder Bay, that an opportunity for employment arose to rebuild Beavers at an AMO that I gained interest in becoming a Licensed Aircraft Engineer. What I love most about my trade is the responsibility behind what I do as an engineer. Every task, every inspection comes with incredible accountability to aviation safety. It’s the responsibility and the accountability of what we do that gives many professionals in my field the personal sense of ownership and pride.

What key skills do you bring to your role with REAL?

Outside of aviation I learned the importance of balance and synergy when it comes to meeting the needs of key stakeholders such as employees, customers and investors. All these needs must be met in unison. This unique blend and understanding, mixed with my knowledge of aviation is what I am truly going to enjoy implementing in my new role.

What are some of the things you are focusing on in the next while for Air Georgian and R1? What are some of your immediate goals for REAL?

Seeing as how I’m still new in town, I’m currently taking into account the importance of building relationships, team development and trying to fulfill any immediate maintenance related requirements that will increase employee engagement, thus increasing safety and reliability. I’m also trying to understand what cultural norms may or may not be conducive to instilling safety throughout. As for REAL, my immediate goals are to implement a full review of the maintenance program and department structure, an employee recruitment and development strategy as well as a full audit of our operations.

How are you ensuring passenger safety is met in your role and within your department?

Every maintenance professional places passenger safety at the forefront. My role is to ensure all maintenance performed is completed to the highest standards of airworthiness. This is done through ongoing training on process and procedures as well as our Safety Management System. Our goal is to maintain the customer confidence that we provide by being a safe and reliable product.

Is there anything you want to tell Air Georgian and R1 clients/passengers when it comes to plane maintenance and safety?

We are without question, a highly regulated industry. All of our maintenance practices and platforms are approved by Transport Canada. We have the book of all books, CARs (Canadian Air Regulations). To us there is no deviating off course. We undergo rigorous audits both internal from our QA team to external customer audits and regulatory review from Transport Canada. Maintenance safety is built into how we do business and we train all employees on the Safety Management System.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

We have incredible people doing incredible things. Each one is focused on the future and sustainability of our business. The most enjoyable aspect of this job is to be surrounded by the numerous professionals and working along side them.

What is the future for Air Georgian and R1 in terms of maintenance? Can you give us a little glimpse of what’s coming?

The future of maintenance at Air Georgian and R1 Airlines is positive and very exciting. I can say that both areas of maintenance will see the same focus in how we do business. Maintenance will transform into a fully integrated Maintenance Management System that will see strong growth in reliability and asset care. As maintenance costs and parts cost rise, and trade specific demographics decrease, a 360-degree review of our current structure will be built to ensure sustainability.

How will you communicate and foster the importance of safety within your department?

Communication is the catalyst to all things. Everyone in the maintenance department must be in the know. We have internal newsletters, an employee website that each employee has access to daily, regular shift handovers, more importantly living the safety culture daily and accepting anything less.

What are some of the safety measures you take while on the job?

I never turn a blind eye to any safety concern. I act on safety matters immediately and treat every concern with extreme importance.

Message from the President and CEO

Eric Edmondson Head ShotAir Georgian recently undertook the necessary steps to become a 705 commercial air operator. During the past twelve months of this process, we have enjoyed significant growth and have also overcome many challenges. I am very proud to say that we embraced each challenge with professionalism, enthusiasm and innovation, but most importantly, we did it without compromising safety. For that I owe each member of the Air Georgian team my sincere gratitude.

Safety really is the foundation of our business and it is a promise that we make to each and every one of our passengers on a daily basis. Our dedication to it should be acknowledged and celebrated. However, safety
 is an elusive goal, in as much as it requires constant vigilance, constant review, constant benchmarking and continued learning by each member of Air Georgian. For that reason, Regional Express Aviation Ltd. (REAL), the parent and managing company of Air Georgian has introduced a revised version of our corporate goals, where we recommit to making safety the true cornerstone of our business.

Regional Express Aviation Ltd. (REAL) safety goals

REAL’s core belief: Safety is the cornerstone of our business and must never be compromised. Without safety we have nothing. We must strive continuously to proactively improve safety each and every day in all corners of the company.

REAL’s primary goal is to manage the best regional airlines in the world. We achieve this by ensuring our customers, employees and shareholders have confidence in knowing we are the best. We accomplish this by being innovative in the way we do business. We deliver safe, reliable and efficient air transportation while providing superior employment stability with industry leading initiatives.

REAL’s secondary goal is to excel at identifying high yield opportunities that complement our core business. REAL aggressively pursues low capital initiatives that provide superior returns when those initiatives complement our core airline business. We remain ever vigilant to ensure we do not lose focus on our primary goal while pursuing our secondary goal.

Our primary and secondary goals are accomplished while staying true to our core belief. Safety is the cornerstone that our business is built upon; safety is to be celebrated, as it is the truest gauge of our success.

Best regards,
Eric Edmondson
President and CEO of REAL

What is the role of air traffic control in Air Georgian passenger safety?

air-traffic-controllers-300x199As you look out the airplane window at the magnificent view below, you are pleased that you have arrived at your destination. The plane slowly lowers and then eventually glides onto the runway while passengers clap for their safe arrival. While you are eager to get off the plane and busy trying to turn your cell phone on to check for messages, you don’t ever really think of all the necessary people and steps it took for you to land safely.

When disembarking the plane, you thank the flight attendants and sometimes the pilots, but do you ever think about the air traffic controllers who have ensured your safe arrival? Whether the airplane is on the tarmac or in the sky, to avoid mishaps, air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic so that planes are always a safe distance apart. This applies to all commercial, chartered or private planes.

You can consider air traffic controllers as your invisible guardian assigned to protect and guide your plane. Here are three other roles they play when it comes to guiding your flight in a timely and safe manner.

The police officer

Every plane has its place and every controller knows where that place is. When the plane is on the ground during arrival and departure time, the controllers direct it to eventually take its proper place on the runway grounds. Like a police officer directing traffic, controllers direct pilots to their assigned runway for departure. And after the plane lands safely, they guide it to their assigned gate. They organize the flow of planes within the airport and closely monitor traffic in the air, so that there are no collisions.

The human barometer

We’ve all experienced those patches of rough weather while being a passenger on a plane. With Canadian winters, although the white snowfall is beautiful, it can also be dangerous. Radar controllers are considered to be human barometers for pilots, and they keep them informed about changing weather patterns.

The quarter horse rider

Quarter horses depend on their riders to safely navigate the ring from beginning of the course to the end. They don’t see the ring and its many obstacles until they actually enter it. The local controller and the plane are comparable to the rider and horse – they are a team and together they must clear the grounds. They will inform the pilot of any conditions in the airport. Radar controllers also fit into this category and warn pilots of potential obstacles and other nearby planes.

There are numerous teams of controllers that help guide the plane and help it reach its destination. See here for more information on air traffic control.

To learn more about Air Georgian’s safety management efforts. Read about our various safety audits.

Four reasons why young women would enjoy a career as an airline pilot

First Officer in cockpit

First Officer in cockpit

Earlier, we shared a blog entry about “Women in aviation, where are they?” questioning why the number of women working in aviation are relatively low compared to their male counterparts. Many possible reasons where stated and some of them do lead to many women shying away from pilot roles. After speaking with Mallory Deluce, First Officer for Air Georgian, she thought it would be helpful to explain the top four reasons young women should consider piloting as a career:

1) Do something challenging, rewarding and exciting

As a pilot there are many different challenges one must face on a daily basis. You have to be ready for any eventuality, such as a procedures disruption, bad weather or flight delays. The job is never the same and you can’t predict what will happen on a daily basis.  Flying is also rewarding, since you get to make a difference in peoples lives by making the world a smaller place. You may also be shifting cultural beliefs or influencing young girls’ perceptions of the role. Or, you may be reuniting people with their families or taking them on vacations where they can see the world and make lifelong memories.

2) Make your own schedule

Piloting is not a lonely existence. On the contrary, schedules are quite customizable. People often think that pilots have a tough schedule, and women perceive the job will take them away from their family.  This is not the case. Pilots get to customize their schedule and take plenty of time off.  Many flight attendants are female, and have the same schedule as pilots and for years they have raised families.  As a pilot you have less chance of missing your family events, since you can choose your days off.  Also, pilots do not have to take their work home once they check out from their flying day. Unlike many other careers that require people to work long hours from home in the evening.

3) Break stereotypes and inspire future generations

Females can do anything that males can do.  In a gender-polarized society people process and organize their roles based on what they see culturally and on what mass media tells them. By becoming a pilot, females break down barriers and challenge perceptions, giving young girls hope that they can do anything and that gender should not hold them back.

4) See the world

As a pilot you have a first class seat with an amazing view, which means you can see the world while you fly the aircraft. On longer runs you may have the opportunity to see the sights and enjoy some of the local flavours of your destination. Lastly, you get reduced rates for hotels and car rentals, and you and your family could get discounted flight tickets to various places.

Six Tips for Creating a Top-Notch Air Georgian Cadet Program Application

imagesIt’s almost that time of year again, when Air Georgian opens the floodgates to all of the motivated, bright minds who are interested in a career in aviation. From September 2014 to January 2015, those interested in becoming an airline pilot can apply for the Air Georgian Cadet Program.

We realize it can be nerve-racking, but the application process does not have to be a harrowing experience. If you are a young Canadian searching for an exciting and fulfilling career, fortunately, we have a recommended formula for what you should include in your application to make a more powerful statement. Here are some helpful tips that just might get you in the door:

  1. Share the academic achievements that you are proud of and quantify them. We want to know all about the awards you’ve won and why, the special projects that you’ve worked on, your honour roll results, references from your teachers and the school subjects in which you have excelled, etc.
  1. Tell us what you’ve done to help your community. Have you volunteered your time to a cause that is dear to your heart? If so, we want to hear about it. We want to know what’s important to you. You should know, that volunteer work demonstrates a significant amount of responsibility.
  1. We want to hear stories about the team activities in which you participated (sports, dance, music). Working effectively as part of a team is incredibly important in a piloting career.
  1. Give us examples of how you demonstrated leadership. It’s one thing to create teamwork, and it’s another completely different thing to create a team and lead it. Yes, teamwork is important, but we also want to know if you have leadership skills. Were you a hockey captain? Lead violinist? Head of the drama club?
  1. Brief us on why you are passionate about aviation. How do you know you want to be a pilot? When did you first get interested in aviation? What gets you excited about flying a plane? What would you do if you did not make it into the program this year?
  1. Demonstrate ambition, backed by a “never give up” attitude and a real enthusiasm to succeed. What have you done in your life to demonstrate this type of behaviour? Tell us how you’ve propelled yourself to success and how you plan do so for a career as a pilot.

If you incorporate these suggestions into your application, you just might be well on your way to visiting the Air Georgian office. Learn more about our Cadet Program application process.

Six Reasons Why Aircraft Maintenance is Important

Aircraft Maintenance

Whether you’re a private aircraft owner, a commercial airline operator or you have a corporate fleet for team business trips, it should be no surprise that the cost of ownership and operations is intrinsically tied to inspections and aircraft maintenance.

As your airtime increases, and you depend more on your plane to get you from one destination to another, you want to make sure you continue to get the most out of your aircraft ownership experience by having it maintained.

You should regularly schedule your maintenance and inspections with experienced, professional and licensed mechanics who offer best in class service, have a keen attention to detail and have the highest possible safety and performance standards in the industry. Sure owning an aircraft affords you the convenience of flying whenever you want, but that‘s not the case if you don’t take up the pre-cautionary principle of having it properly serviced. Here are six reasons why you should get your plane looked after by the pros:

  1. A well-serviced and healthy plane that undergoes routine maintenance and inspections will ensure a safe, pleasant transportation experience for all. This means getting to your destination in a timely manner. It’s pretty simple. If you want your plane to stay in the air then you owe it some TLC.
  1. If you don’t set some time aside for repairs and maintenance, then your aircraft has the potential of being grounded when you need it the most. Just like a child being punished for bad behaviour by being sent to their room, that team meeting you wanted to go to in Vegas may not happen when you want it to.
  1. Some of the pros can give you peace of mind by doing everything for you. The turnkey management solution that Air Georgian offers ensures that your plane is maintained, properly stored and staffed to fly at all times while meeting government regulations. We are certain that you’ll want to get on board with this relaxed approach to ownership.
  1. Everyone is in a hurry these days, including you, which is why having a dedicated team assigned to your plane(s) means that you can avoid service disruptions. Coming in at the last minute could mean that you’re last in line when you could have been first.
  1. If you want to protect the value of your plane, the pros can do more than service it, they can also keep accurate logs and documentation of the work performed. This kind of preservation and history collection is critical to prospective buyers, making it easier for you to sell your wings in the future. Also, dealing with a reputable maintenance shop, gives your aircraft that much more credibility.
  1. Dealing with a shop like Air Georgian means that you will receive service above and beyond the standard. You will be advised on the safest repairs possible and not just the minimum requirements. The size of Air Georgian’s own fleet and our extensive network of valued vendors, allows us to maintain the highest possible safety and performance standards in the industry.

At Air Georgian we understand the importance of proper airplane maintenance. Not only do we do the work ourselves, we are privileged that major airlines around the world trust us to train their technicians and ground crews. So we ask you, who do you want to maintain your plane?

Learn more about Air Georgian’s fully customized maintenance services, or book an appointment today.

Women in aviation, where are they?

Female Pilot in cockpit

Recently, the President and CEO of Air Georgian attended The Air Transportation Association of Canada (ATAC) Spring Symposium that celebrated women in aviation. The house was packed with many key figures from the industry, wishing to both celebrate women in aviation and promote aviation as a viable career option.

Although there are women that work in aviation, the numbers are quite low compared to their male counterparts. According to ATAC, in the Canadian fixed wing world, women account for as little as 6.6% of Commercial Licenses and 5.2% of Airline Transport Pilot Licenses. As Air Traffic Controllers, women represent 14.8% and only 2.6% of Flight Engineers. In terms of aviation industry senior management, ATAC seems to think that there is an absence of female decision makers at the top.

Today, women make up 50% of the Canadian labour force. If that is indeed the case, why are they so underrepresented in our industry? Aside from ATAC, numerous organizations out there do their best to recognize women’s contributions to aviation, such as:

However, even with the above groups, a career in aviation does not seem to be on most women’s radar screen. As a first step Air Georgian introduced a program targeting young female hockey players as part of our pilot cadet program. Nevertheless, there remains a significant absence of women in the industry, and many of us scratch our heads and wonder how we can solve the problem and make aviation more appealing.

At the ATAC Spring Symposium, we discussed some of the possible perceptions that women might have of the industry and some of the issues that we thought might contribute for the lack of female engagement. We talked about:

  • Male dominated – possible gender barrier and discrimination;
  • Lack of ads and promotion targeting women for aviation careers;
  • Social norms/gender stereotypes;
  • Mass media and movies depicting males as pilots, traffic controllers and engineers. While women are portrayed in flight attendant roles;
  • Tough schedules – a piloting career means constant travelling and leaves no time for a woman to care for family and children;
  • The industry is just not appealing;
  • Women are told to go to university;
  • Unless, there’s somebody in the family who works in aviation, it’s not even considered as a possible career choice;
  • High stress and dangerous job;
  • Financial commitment; cost for schooling and training;
  • Salary; and
  • Aviation not talked about as a career option in high school

It could be any of the above or more. What do you think? We’d love to hear from our readers. Please share your thoughts on why you think women make up such a small percentage of the industry, and in one of our next blog entries we will help demystify some of your perceptions and explain why a career in aviation is perfect for women. If you are looking for a challenge and some excitement, this is the job for you.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Air Georgian

In the Safety Boots of an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer

Air Georgian Maintenance Crew Chief, Antonio Efstathiou Doing What he Does Best.

Air Georgian Maintenance Crew Chief, Antonio Efstathiou doing what he does best.

Sure it’s an occupation that requires a high degree of responsibility and skill, but for Air Georgian Maintenance Crew Chief, Antonio Efstathiou, it’s all part of the gig. Some would say that he could do the job with his eyes closed, but that would defy safety protocols. However, he lives and breathes his role, knows the ins and outs, and has been enjoying it for the last 10 years.

From a very young age, Antonio was playing with model airplanes. Whether it was admiring the handy work of each plane while sitting on the living room floor, or flying them around the house, he was fated to employ his hands and intelligence in aircraft maintenance. After a visit and tour, here’s what he had to say about aircraft maintenance and his days spent with Air Georgian:

Can you briefly describe what you do in your role?

In all of my planning, coordinating and executing of daily work, I ensure that Air Georgian’s safety standards are met. I am accountable to the production plan and assist in its development, while assigning and directing the work of maintenance personnel. I resolve material, tooling and engineering issues, while ensuring airworthiness by adhering to all safety policies, processes and reporting methods.

I also exercise ownership of my area, by providing leadership, coaching, training, direction and support to all maintenance personnel that reports to me. I am responsible for the completion of aircraft and maintenance records and providing adequate hand-off information for a smooth transition between shifts. The most quintessential, I have to certify a safe and tidy workplace at all times – this is of utmost importance to the well being of my crew. A healthy crew means a healthy plane.

What kind of education is required for a role in aircraft maintenance? Do you have to be an engineer?

You should have two years of college with an optional year of avionics if you chose to go that route. You do not have to be an aircraft maintenance engineer, but that restricts you from being able to release and sign off your own work, and relinquishing aircrafts from defects or their final inspections.

How important is aircraft maintenance for Air Georgian?

Air Georgian has an excellent understanding of aircraft maintenance and allows the proper time to complete certain inspections and tasks as required. With more planes in the air and more travel time spent in the air, safety is more important than ever. Air safety has had a profound effect since the very beginning of flight. Today’s technologies and the many complicated systems demand a detail-oriented approach.

Do you play a role in airplane safety?

I think everyone in each department has an important role to play when it comes to aircraft safety. Making sure everything is operating properly, and checking completed work before releasing an aircraft is essential. From a safe work environment, to using proper tools, stands, equipment, proper securing of components and panels, looking for fuel, oil and hydraulic leaks, and constantly following procedures and ensuring preventative maintenance is carried out, it all plays an integral role in safety.

Safety comes first at all times. Aircrafts that come out of maintenance are not usually flight-tested. Passengers are immediately taken on board for flight travels. This means that our work must be impeccable. The most important jobs are double-checked and then checked again. When a technician completes the maintenance of a plane, an engineer who did not participate in the process follows it up. Therefore, final approval is made independently and nothing is overlooked. I also have to wear, at all times, a safety vest, safety boots and all PPE such as safety glasses and earplugs.

As an aircraft maintenance person, what does Air Georgian expect from you and what do your clients expect from you?

Air Georgian expects us to fulfill all the safety initiatives and protocols for overall maintenance operations. We are also mandated to conduct rigorous quality checks, provide excellent customer service and must always demonstrate teamwork.

There are some changes taking place at Air Georgian when it comes to airplane maintenance? What are they, and what do they mean for the company and its clients?

Air Georgian has been around for many years, and is known for flawless aircraft maintenance safety reviews and reliability. One addition is to have a ramp crew present at the terminal at all times during arrivals and departures – maintaining and inspecting the aircraft every time it returns. Which helps to address any issues when the aircraft arrives to the gate. Should more time be needed to address a problem, the aircraft will be delayed in order to complete work safely. We also take care of business jets for owners, which we have a charter maintenance crew to focus on that side of the business. In my mind, being responsible for the proper maintenance of more planes, demonstrates to clients that we care for their safety.

Are there industry standards that you have to abide by when it comes to maintaining planes?

We follow maintenance schedules provided by the aircraft manufacturer, and there are certain tasks that need to be completed depending on how many hours the aircraft has flown. These factors determine which airplanes are down for longer periods of time to complete such tasks. We also conduct regular reviews of safety by monitoring the aviation industry’s performance as a whole and identifying safety trends and risks. Lastly, we are in constant communication with all people, organizations and government bodies that play a role in aviation safety.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy everything about my role at Air Georgian. From the onset of my morning and throughout my entire shift, I am excited to see what the day will bring. It is never the same, when it comes to recognizing an aircraft issue that needs fixing. I also enjoy being around all my co-workers. Everyone that I work with has a positive attitude and we all strive to achieve the same results.

What kind of planes/jets do you work on?

I work on all the aircrafts that Air Georgian maintains. The CRJ-100, Caravan 208B, King Air C90, 350, Premier I, Learjet, Citation 500 series, Bravo and Ultra, Beech 1900D-1900C, Hawker 800, Citation 680 Sovereign, any type of airplanes really. When I was at Air Canada, I worked on planes such as the Boeing 767, 777, Airbus 319, 320, 321, and Embraer 175, 190.

Are there a lot of women who work in aircraft maintenance?

We have had women work as aircraft engineers in the past, and I know a few that are still in the industry at other companies.

There are always new planes coming to market, how do you keep up from a maintenance perspective?

Well, generally we can work on any type of aircraft. But in order to release an aircraft you need to have the appropriate M1 or M2 license, and the aircraft type course completed with an approved training facility that gives you knowledge of the aircraft systems etc… courses can be anywhere from two to six weeks.

Describe a routine check-up on an aircraft from a maintenance standpoint.

A routine check-up consists of checking engine oils, all main wheels for correct inflation, wears and tears. Brakes being in limits, walking around the aircraft to check for any dents or surface damages, checking for leaks of any sort, such as engine oil, hydraulics, fuel leaks. Checking all interior and exterior lighting, emergency equipment on board for expiry dates, oxygen for the correct amount and making sure everything is serviced.

Is there anything that you must avoid doing when on the job or when maintaining a plane?

Avoid memorizing a routine check and always have the paper work with you to ensure nothing is missed. Also avoid turning on the heat and lights, or moving any flight controls because there may be someone near the controls that could be injured. Always check, and be in the clear of anyone before operating the systems.

Do you think there’s shortage of people choosing aircraft maintenance as a career option?

There seems to be a shortage of people choosing aircraft maintenance. There is a demand for technicians, but the pool is small. When working in aviation maintenance you are liable for the work that is done and for anything that could happen while the plane is in flight. It’s all about safety, safety, safety at all times.

Explain the most exciting thing that has happened to you, while on the job.

There was an aircraft grounded for few days before Christmas, due to a system malfunction. All the passengers were really upset that they wouldn’t make it to their destination. We eventually identified the problem and fixed it. All the passengers thanked me, and were grateful that they were now able to get home for the holidays. We felt appreciated. It goes to show that passengers truly depend on us for their safe travels.

What are your work hours like?

We work 4 days on and 4 days off at 12 hours a day. We also have some maintenance personnel on a Monday to Friday shifts, during the day for A B C checks (heavy maintenance).

What do you do when you’re not servicing planes?

When aircrafts are not being serviced, we usually clean the hangar, fuel our maintenance trucks, maintain and clean. Also, we check if parts need to be ordered to complete any upcoming tasks that are scheduled.

What kind of social/personal life do you have with this type of job?

I love maintaining planes. People outside of work are interested in what I do, and always ask me questions. They seem to be amazed by all the systems and how large aircrafts can actually get off the ground. They also want to know what it takes to maintain them. When I’m not at work, I like to hang out with a few good friends and family. I have a brother in aviation and one sister that also likes to be around airplanes. She comes into my work for an occasional airplane tour. I also love riding motorcycles.

What kind of advice do you have for someone who wants to maintain planes?

You must have a passion for this type of work and a positive attitude. That will definitely get you far. You must also respect safety standards and be meticulous in all your actions.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?


Flying for the Rich and Famous

Jeff PepperInterview with Air Georgian Pilot, Jeff Pepper

Former Captain and Training Captain of a Hawker 800, as well as Captain of a Citation Bravo aircraft, Jeff Pepper is always on the go flying VIP. He currently works for a special client on behalf of Air Georgian’s Operational Contract, as the Captain and Training Captain of a Citation Sovereign.

Why did you want to become a pilot of a private jet?

As a child, I was brought up around aviation with my father being a pilot and owning a variety of airplanes. Weekends with my father around the Peterborough Airport were normal, and in that time, I was lucky enough to be given an occasional tour of a private jet. I was always in awe of private jets and the lifestyle associated with them. It was a natural path that brought me here, you could say.

Was your training different then the typical charter pilot?

The majority of my private jet experience has been here at Air Georgian. With that being said, our company is airline centric and with that, has a very high training standard. Air Georgian takes the same approach with all crew, airline or corporate aviation. My training was on par with our airline standards, with the only difference being that on new airplane types, we generally spend two to three weeks in Orlando or Wichita for our training. It’s a lot of fun!

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I really like the variety of destinations we fly to. I have been all over the USA, Caribbean, Canada and Europe within this sector of aviation. I also really enjoy being responsible for my own aircraft. Everyday I fly the same airplane, and all of us take pride in our aircraft and treat it as though it’s our own. Even if we don’t pay the bills or own the airplane, there is a huge sense of ownership and pride amongst the crew.

What kind of jet(s) do you fly?

I have flown the Cessna 550 Citation II, The Citation Bravo, Raytheon Premier 1A, Hawker 800/800xp and now our Cessna Sovereign – the Sovereign being my favorite.

What are the great aspects of flying for the rich and famous?

Some of the greatest aspects of flying, are that we generally stay with the airplane wherever it goes. Often, we are in some of the most beautiful and exclusive places and we get to stay there. I’ve spent some great layovers for 4-7 days in some really amazing places that I probably would have never even known existed.

What are some of the differences between flying a private jet for someone versus a public charter?

I think the primary difference between flying a private jet and airline is the personal service that’s involved. We deal directly with our owner and his or her needs. This often includes specific catering and even selecting airports. We also deal and speak directly to our clients about any operational issue or changes we forecast, and sometimes change plans in flight. Like I said earlier, we are never in the same place twice. There is no consistency in what we do in terms of flying and landing.

What are some of the things that you must avoid doing when flying a private jet?

You need to realize that most people who fly private jets value privacy and efficiency. They usually do not want you telling people where or who you are flying.

As a pilot for a private jet, what do your passengers expect from you?

They expect to be kept a secret. Who you fly and where you fly is private. They also expect to be kept in the loop of everything operationally, and have a say in the outcome of their travels. They expect you to learn about them, learn what they like, learn their habits and what they eat… etc.

Do you think the concept of private jets is on the rise, and where is it more prevalent?

I do think that the concept is a growing one. The notion that a private jet, as being a business tool, is something that many companies are considering. Even as the market here in Canada is growing, Canadians in this regard, are very conservative in comparison to their US counterparts. Growing markets are most certainly Asia and the Middle East. Both understand the need for private jets and they also embrace the luxury factor as well.

Explain the most exciting thing that has happened to you while flying a private jet for the rich and famous?

A few years back, I was on a charter for a very famous Canadian Rapper and we flew out to the east coast for a concert. Once landed, we were invited to go with the group as their guests. We were on stage, backstage and out for dinner with them, before flying them back to Toronto. It was quite the experience.

Explain what a typical flight is like with one of your key clients?

With one of my client’s aircraft being used almost primarily for business purposes, a typical flight would be from Toronto to the west coast. Almost always, we leave our FBO at 7 a.m. sharp. Preparation usually starts with our Charter Co-ordinators getting a call for a flight, and then given the details of the passenger list and destination(s). The night before, the aircraft is scheduled for grooming and we arrange a pull out time. Flight planning is done with the help of our operations department and computer software. On the day of, we have fuel ordered and we prep the aircraft. We also have the aircraft re-stocked with the client’s favourite treats. It’s quite “business like” on this aircraft and we generally stick to the schedule, with very little in the way of delays. As far as client care, there’s not much for us to do. Within the operation, we all have a job: the passengers are told when and where to be; the pilots are given the time and location for the flight; and, the passengers are instructed by their boss on flight departure details. We embrace the teamwork environment we have with our client.

What are your work hours like?

Our schedule is one of the many perks of the job. We work very hard during the week, but also have a fair amount of time off. Often talked about on our plane, is how hard we work and yet how much time off we have. Our aircraft is the busiest corporate aircraft in Toronto. Last year, all pilots did approximately 600 hrs of flying time.  With three pilots on the plane, we do a two-week on/one week off schedule. We generally only work Monday to Friday with weekends and holidays off. It equals out to 5 on-2 off-5 on-9 off in terms of a work schedule.

What do you do during your layover time?

All of the pilots on our plane are very health conscious and we generally workout together, and try to get as much sleep on the road as we can. We rarely spend more than 14hrs on layover. We do not usually have the time to explore too much. We do occasionally get a nice layover on the west coast and we enjoy those!

What was the most memorable comment you received while flying one of your clients?

I can’t really remember a specific comment, but I do like when the passengers thank us for getting them home safely. It is our job, but it always stands out and is appreciated.

What was the strangest thing that happened to you during your job?

I don’t have anything strange. Oddly enough, knock on wood… my life as a private jet pilot has been for the most part, uneventful… I like it that way.

What are some of the safety measures you take while flying a private jet for the rich and famous?

Security is very important. Securing the aircraft and thorough inspections of the aircraft when in the south Caribbean is very important. Often, we have life rafts on board and some other safety equipment that isn’t usually carried aboard an airline flight. In some cases, we have had armed guards and spotlights on the aircraft for the entire time of our stay… sometimes for 5-6 days.

What kind of social/personal life do you have with this type of job? What do you like to do outside of work?

I think it takes an understanding wife or partner to support a private jet pilot’s career. We can be called at anytime to go anywhere… often this can and usually does interrupt plans with family and friends. As said earlier, my job is very different than a typical private jet pilot and it is very much scheduled. We know of flights for the week often a week ahead of time, and I am usually away from home from 6am-6pm and one overnight a week. Outside of work, I like to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. I play Tennis and Squash as well as workout regularly. With friends, we love to travel and hit local hot spot restaurants and sporting events. My travels this year, have taken me from Barcelona to Hawaii and everything in between. Next month, I will be with friends in Amsterdam! I love our travel benefits!

What kind of advice do you have for someone who wants to fly for the rich and famous?

I think that they need to network. You will meet many people on your way up, that may be doing what you hope to achieve. Maintain those relationships and stay focused. They also need to remember that they have to start somewhere and usually it’s at the bottom. Experience accumulates quickly, and I would recommend focusing on one or two companies that you want to work for. Stay in touch with them and check in, either in person or phone. Our industry is very personal, and I always recommend going in person to shake hands and forge relationships. Persistence and patience always pay off.

Are there any false assumptions made by the public when it comes to flying the rich and famous that you can demystify for us?

I think most people assume that the rich and famous are eccentric and odd. Quite the opposite, they usually are very low key and humble. The ones I met, anyway. I flew an extremely wealthy man and his family for many years – this man loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and chicken fingers. We also do not always take them to exclusive destinations. Some people think that we really get to know our clients, and often we do not speak to them, much like a charter client. They like the quiet of flying private and it is usually the only time that these people get to rest without being harassed or their phones going off.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Many people think that piloting for the airline world is the way to go, and that a career as a private jet pilot is a difficult life. I’d like to say that in most cases, the very few inconveniences of the private jet lifestyle often afford some of the most rewarding and exciting flying that you can do as a pilot. I have been to many places, I otherwise would not have and I also get many paid vacations on the beach…. something I appreciate and value very much.


The High-Flying Times of an Air Georgian Pilot

Mallory Deluce photoInterview with Mallory Deluce, First Officer for Air Georgian

When Air Georgian Pilot, Mallory Deluce is not in the sky, she’s on the ice playing hockey and winning gold medals for Team Ontario (2005 and 2006) and Team Canada (2008, 2009 and 2011). As a young girl, Mallory’s father and brother, who are commercial pilots, would often share their ubiquitous stories of in-flight experiences. Not to mention, the fond memories of her family gatherings, where uncles and cousins talked about their pilot lives in vivid detail. It’s as though flying is part of Mallory’s DNA. Amid Mallory’s time in the skies and on the ice, she is spokesperson for the Air Georgian Cadet Program and enjoys talking to young female hockey players about a rewarding career as a pilot. Here’s what she had say, that will make you want to join the Air Georgian team:

Where and how were you trained to be a pilot?

I started my flight training a few weeks after I graduated from university in May 2011.  I did my private license in St. Thomas, Ontario at St. Thomas Flight Centre and then for my multi engine and instrument ratings, I went out to Professional Flight Centre at Boundary Bay Airport (an airport that is a 15 minute drive south of Vancouver). I lived in the flight school’s boarding house that had 15 other student pilots from Canada and all over the world. I met many amazing people and loved being around other student pilots.  I came back home to the St. Thomas Flight Centre to do my commercial license and build some flying time.

Who are you currently working for?

I’m currently working as a First Officer for Air Georgian, a company that flies routes for Air Canada, under the Air Canada Express name.

Tell us about your training experience.

My Air Georgian training began with ground school that taught me about the company operation and about the Beech 1900.  After ground school, we trained on a Beech 1900 simulator at a first class facility in Toronto called Flight Safety.  This simulator felt very similar to the real airplane and prepared us for the transition to the airplane.

Tell us why you love being a pilot.

First of all, flying is a lot of fun!  I love the thrill and adrenaline rush I get from flying.  I love how flying never feels like “work” and I always look forward to it.  It’s fun meeting and flying with different people and I find I learn a lot from everyone.

There’s a “teamwork” aspect to flying that I enjoy and it reminds me of hockey – the captain and co-pilot work together as a team to make each flight as safe as possible.

Also, when I get a few days off, I find myself missing life in the plane. Just like the way I miss playing hockey, when I’m not on my skates for a few days. I love the lifestyle for hockey and piloting as you are traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people. The typical 9-5 lifestyle is not for me.  Every day is different and has a new adventure or challenge.

What inspires you about your piloting career?

Doing something that I love doing everyday is very rewarding.  I was lucky to have been exposed to aviation my whole life, with many family members involved in the industry.  Seeing how much my family enjoyed their work as pilots helped me decide on the career and I’m extremely thankful I chose it.

How do you balance being a hockey player and a pilot? 

I always go to the rink to play pick-up hockey on my days off.  It’s nice not to work a traditional schedule, because I’m able to attend the mid day pick-up hockey at my local rink.  Staying in shape as a pilot is easy since there’s always time to workout at the hotel gyms on our overnight flights.  I find living healthy and being in shape as an athlete and hockey player helps my performance as a pilot, keeping myself energized and focused all day long.

Why do you feel female hockey players should know about piloting as a career choice? How is it rewarding?

Female hockey players are great candidates for a pilot career since hockey and flying are very similar.  They both require skills such as dedication, focus, teamwork, and determination.  As a pilot, you get to meet different people, see different places and everyday has a new challenge.  Hockey players are used to overcoming different challenges. Learning to fly takes time, practice and dedication and being able to do it everyday as a career is very rewarding.  Doing something that I’ve worked hard for is very rewarding.

What does it take to be a pilot?

To be a pilot it takes determination, dedication, focus, a positive attitude, and the ability to work well with others.

Why train and fly with Air Georgian?

Air Georgian is a first class company with a state of the art training program. They provide quality airline experience, which is extremely valuable for a flying career.  Safety is the first priority with Air Georgian and you get to fly with very knowledgeable and experienced captains. They offer a great program for low time pilots, giving you the proper training and every opportunity to be successful.

How is being a hockey player similar to being a pilot?

I find that being a hockey player really helped me in my career as a pilot. Hockey taught me teamwork, which is important when working together as a flight crew. Showing up on time and prepared for hockey practices and games set the stage for always being prepared, well rested, and on time for my flights.  

What do you want to tell young female hockey players today about a career in piloting? What do you think they should know?

Flying is an extremely rewarding profession.  It let’s you go to new places, meet new people, and above all, it is a lot of fun. Currently, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) is in partnership with Air Georgian, taking the piloting Cadet program across Canada and promoting it to female AA players and intermediate AA players while giving them interview opportunities so that they can get started in a piloting career journey.

What are your next big goals in life?

I am extremely happy and enjoying my time at Air Georgian.  Both the Cadet and Mentor program is an amazing opportunity that I was very lucky to be a part of. My goal is to have a long and happy career in aviation, not without the hockey of course.