One common concern you may have before boarding an aircraft is whether the pilots in the cockpit are well-qualified.
As a Part 135 air carrier, Schubach Aviation is required to hold pilots to some FAA-determined standards. They must have a certain amount of flight time and experience before they can fly as either pilot in command (PIC) or co-pilots at any commercial air carrier.
Of course, all companies will claim that their crews are trained, certified and qualified. But if you have ever wondered if there are some specific questions to ask or things to look for before taking flight, here they are.
The Hiring Process
Ask your charter operator about its hiring process. How stringent is the screening process for their new pilots? Do pilot commanders and co-pilots just meet FAA standards, or have they completed additional training?
Schubach goes beyond the minimum requirements when selecting our pilots. When we’re looking for new pilots to hire, we look for people who have at least double the minimum standards required. Those who meet that criteria go through an interview process – first, they interview with our chief pilot, then with our Director of Operations, and finally with a board of pilots who conduct their own interviews.
Once all interviews are complete, prospective pilots go on a test flight. They’re run through a rudimentary flight test so we’re able to evaluate their flying skills to determine if they’re good enough to be Schubach pilots.
Continued Training and Education
If a pilot is offered a job, the next step involves an extensive training program. There are minimum requirements for all air carriers, and we meet and exceed these requirements. This includes close to 40 hours of ground training, then additional work at one of our training centers depending on which aircraft they fly.
The training centers we utilize are the nationally recognized FlightSafety International and CAE Simuflight, as well as the very respected local training centers Loft and ProFlight. Certification requirements mandate a training center audit every two years, but we do more frequently than that to ensure they’re meeting our standards and that our pilots are getting the best training possible.
Further, our pilots are required to do an annual pilot competency check in an airplane, normally done in a simulator to test emergency responses. Every 6 months, they’re asked to pass an instrument proficiency check to show that they are up to speed flying in different conditions – in the clouds, in the fog, etc.
You can always ask your pilot when and where he completed his last simulator training or instrument proficiency check. He should be able to answer that it’s been within the last year on that particular aircraft that you’ll be flying.
Going Above and Beyond
The FAA has set minimum standards for charter companies, and there are some operators out there who just barely meet those standards.
Schubach goes above and beyond when it comes to safety. We don’t just want to comply, we want to provide our customers with the best-trained pilots available. We’ve built a very loyal customer base over the past 22 years because of our skilled pilots and commitment to service, and we strive to maintain that reputation.