So, after two very interesting weeks working with American Airlines, it’s time to update you on what’s been going one here. Working in the flight communications department, I have been able to experience first-hand what is being said between the pilots and upper management here at American Airlines. Two weeks ago American had their annual stockholders meeting, right down the street from where I am at the flight academy. During the meeting the reality of low profits (even negative profits) for an airline, when forced to operate at $130 a barrel fuel, was stated very clearly and plans for change within the company began to be laid out.
That afternoon I was able to sit in on a conference phone call where Mark Hettermann, VP of flight operations in Dallas spoke on what these changes meant for the pilots. After he was done speaking, I sat and listened to chief pilots from around the country take their turns in expressing their concerns and the moods from their bases. Sitting in an office in Dallas, yet being able to listen to pilots from round the country speak, allowed me to see just how big this operation is and how decisions made in upper management ripple down throughout the company.
Aside from all of that, I have also been involved in different tasks in flight communication. Every morning there is a summary report published containing all the data from flights from the previous day, and every morning I start off by finding this report and republishing it on a website for thepilots, and other employees at American to be able to access. Other tasks have included sending HI6 messages or what could be considered one-way e-mails to pilots via our own computer database. Sending messages with topics ranging from a group of Army troops that were flying aboard an American flight on Memorial Day, to a medication that the FAA decided was unsafe for pilots to take and fly; these HI6 messages keep pilots informed and are an easy way to get information to a selective group or the entire pilot population at American. I also go through customer service reports, picking out the positive ones to be sent to the crew bases of the crew being noted. These letters are then put into the crewmembers file and the crewmember notified of the report.
I also have gone through a monthly list that has all the First Officers who are becoming Captains with American. One would expect this to be a relatively simple task but the problem arises when some have already been a Captain before or others get deferred or withheld from upgrade training. Acting as a detective, it has been my job to search through the database and figure out who is actually going to become a captain, then after they complete their upgrade training, I make a plaque in recognition of their accomplishment.
Finally, I also take care of retirement postings on our web site. Receiving yet another list, this one contains the name of retired pilots; I go through and draft a short biography on each, to be later posted on our website. These have actually been very interesting and rather humbling. The vast majority of our pilots have served our country in some branch of military service, flown with other companies, gone through times of furlough and then been with American for 30 years!! At just the starting line of my career in aviation this appears to be huge shoes to fill.
Aside from all the eight-to-five office work, I have actually gotten to do a good amount of traveling and sightseeing. Going to both Dallas and Ft. Worth here in Texas, I highly recommend both. Dallas is very dressy and expensive from what I have seen, but they have an awesome fresh produce market on the east side of town. Farmers from around the state bring whatever they grow and the prices are unbeatable. Ft. Worth is a little more causal and a very good place to hang out. The downtown is very well maintained and shops, restaurants, and bars line the street, all within walking distance of each other.
My first weekend of travel benefits, another intern and myself flew out to San Francisco, California where we had a place to stay. Leaving the 90+ degree Dallas we were surprised to find a low 60 degree San Fran. Walking all over town on Saturday we saw the Golden Gate Bridge, China Town, and the rest of downtown. Skeptical of what San Fran would be likebefore I went, I was truly surprised at how cool most of the city was. While expensive I would definitely go back sometime! This past weekend I traveled up to Detroit, Michigan in hopes of getting to see the Red Bull Air Races. A sold-out event, another intern and I found a parking garage right on the river that was selling access to their rooftop. After sitting in the sun for about four hours, they finally called off the time trials due to high winds. More than a little disappointed we left straight to a hotel near the airport. Downtown Detroit, which we heard from everyone was not a very good place to be at night in small groups, looked like aninteresting place to see during the day. Situated right on a river that separates it from Windsor, Canada the river and the river walk are a must see when traveling to Detroit.
Well our flight from Detroit is almost back to Dallas and I’ve already written too much, so I will check back with you in two weeks and let you know what is going on here in Dallas and around the country.