Airline Pilot Careers-Netjets article

1900cpt

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For those who dont get the magazine, or are curious...here you go:

Do I still want to head for the major airlines or should I consider the alternatives? It’s a question that many pilots have been asking themselves, especially after what happened last September, and one that more and more have been answering lately by applying to NetJets, the world’s largest fractional ownership operator.

The outlook for prospective airline pilots certainly looks different now than it did prior to the terrorist attacks, with some airlines faltering, many pilots furloughed, and pilot hiring scaled back at most large air carriers. But at NetJets, headquartered in Montvale, NJ, with its operational base in Columbus, OH, the skies remain bright, with expansion on the horizon.

“The growth rate of this company is phenomenal. Even in the worst of times, NetJets continues to fly at a record pace,” says George Lusk, manager of pilot recruitment and NetJets’ Citation Ultra program manager. “We’re taking more aircraft this year (78 scheduled deliveries) than we’ve ever accepted in a year.” And far from paring back it’s workforce, Lusk says NetJets plans to hire 500 pilots in 2002 and another 500 next year.

Job-seeking pilots are responding by sending applications in record numbers, but Lusk points out there are reasons beyond growth for pilot interest in working for NetJets. The job simply has a lot to offer, he says.

“We’re the best thing going. Six years ago, a lot of people saw NetJets as a stepping stone; that is no longer the case,” Lusk states. “This is now a career choice. Our pilots truly have a quality of life and job security you can’t find anywhere else.”

NetJets also offers speedy advancement to captain status, he says. “We don’t need first officers; we need captains. You are a first officer for a very short period, so to come here you have to become ‘captain-ready’ in a very short period of time.” Most new hires spend six months to a year before upgrading to captain, Lusk says, but “it can occur even quicker.”

BACKGROUND

The story of NetJets dates back to 1964 when Executive Jet Airways was founded by Brigadier General O.F. “Dick” Lassiter as a civilian version of the US Air Force’s Special Air Missions Squadron. With a fleet of 10 new Learjet 23s, Lassiter used military principles in aircraft utilization and management to efficiently ferry civilian VIPs on chartered trips. Since that time, expansion has been the company’s uninterrupted hallmark.

A name change to Executive Jet Aviation (EJA) came about a year later and the operation stretched internationally in 1965 with the establishment of Executive Jet Aviation SA, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Swiss operation was sold a mere five years later, but EJA continued to operate stateside, though by the ‘80s, it began to falter.

In 1984, former Goldman Sachs principal Richard Santulli—who continues as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer—purchased EJA. Apparently, Santulli initially planned to use EJA’s Columbus-based hangar as a home for a helicopter leasing business, but after agreeing to purchase a private jet with three friends and dealing with arguments about who would get to use it and when, the seeds for NetJets were planted.




Santulli looked into the logistics and legalities of leasing guaranteed service in business aircraft and by 1986, he was pioneering the fractional aircraft ownership model. Fractional ownership allows companies and people to buy shares in corporate aircraft, instead of owning their own planes and dealing with the attendant staffing and maintenance costs and regulations. Owners can buy one-sixteenth to full shares in most NetJets aircraft that allow them access to preset annual hours of flight. There’s also a monthly management fee and occupied hourly fee, but the savings in time, security hassles, and money over outright ownership tends to pay off for busy executives, professional athletes, and entrepreneurs.

Fractional ownership is similar to time sharing a vacation property, but unlike time sharing, it does not mean a customer will always fly on the specific aircraft he or she chooses. Instead, NetJets guarantees a plane of the owner’s purchase—or better—will be available on as little as four hours’ notice.



The NetJets fractional ownership program was an almost instant success, with its annual profits exceeding those of EJA’s charter operation for the first time in 1991. By 1996, NetJets Europe was established, in 1999, NetJets Middle East was launched, and there are plans in the works to expand the NetJets concept to South America and the Pacific Rim.

In the mid-1990s, respected financier Warren Buffet bought interest in NetJets after traveling with it as a customer, then in July 1998, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. purchased ownership of the company from Santulli.

In June 2000, NetJets opened a new operational headquarters complex at Port Columbus International Airport. It features an 80,000-square-foot hangar capable of housing up to 30 NetJets aircraft, with an adjacent 45,000-square-foot aircraft support area, and 75,000 square feet of office space.

On April 30 this year, Executive Jet Inc. officially changed its name to NetJets Inc., the name previously reserved only for its fractional aircraft ownership program. “Our research shows that using the names Executive Jet and NetJets created confusion among the press, prospects, and occasionally even among our NetJets fractional aircraft owners,” Santulli explains. “Changing our corporate name to NetJets Inc. reflects the importance of the fractional ownership program as our primary business.”

Executive Bios

Santulli
Richard T. Santulli is chairman and CEO of NetJets Inc. From 1969 to 1980, Santulli was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs & Co. where he held various positions, including vice president of investment banking and president of Goldman Sachs Leasing Corp. A native New Yorker, Santulli graduated in 1966 with two Master’s degrees in mathematics from Polytechnic University-Brooklyn.
Steven Brechter is COO of NetJets Inc. Prior to joining NetJets, he spent 26 years at Pratt & Whitney and United Technology Corporation. Brechter has a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the Hartford Graduate Center in Hartford, CT.

James W. Jacobs is vice chairman of NetJets Inc. He is responsible for numerous corporate functions, including general business development and corporate direction. Jacobs founded Turbine Air Management which, through growth and acquisition, formed United Air Fleet and was acquired by NetJets in September 1989. He also is a pilot with several commercial jet aircraft ratings.

Stephen P. Bishop is senior vice president and CFO of NetJets Inc. Prior to joining NetJets in 1998, he was managing director of finance and operations for Bellcore Professional Services, the world’s largest telecommunication consulting company. Bishop holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maine and an MBA in finance from Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Business Administration.

Richard G. Smith, III has been executive vice president of NetJets Inc. since 1990. He began his career with NetJets as a line pilot in 1978 and also has held the titles of director of training, chief pilot, and director of operations. He is currently responsible for the company’s flight operations, security activities, and maintenance activities; negotiating support agreements, vendor agreements, and collective bargaining agreements; and for long-range planning within the organization. Still an active pilot who is type-rated in five business jets, Smith is on the advisory board for the Ohio State University Aviation Department. He is a graduate of Davidson College and The Asheville School.


APPLYING

Pilots thinking of applying to NetJets recently received extra incentive as the company dropped its $450 application fee. NetJets also pays for applicants’ travel to and from its interview locations, and for their accommodations. The company says it received nearly 11,000 résumés from qualified applicants in 2001 and hired approximately 550 pilots.

Pilots seeking an application should send a résumé to:

NetJets Pilot Recruitment
Attn: Crew Scheduling
625 N. Hamilton Road
Columbus, OH 43219

If the applicant meets NetJets minimum qualifications (see sidebar, pg. 24), he or she will receive an application in the mail to complete and return. Once the application is received, the company begins by conducting PRIA-compatible background checks, and then forwards the most promising applications to FlightSafety International (FSI) in Daytona Beach, FL. FlightSafety, which also is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, then schedules interviews and simulator checkrides for applicants at one of its facilities in Atlanta, St. Louis, Toledo, Wichita, KS, or Long Beach, CA. Alternatively, NetJets periodically conducts what it calls “blitz interviews,” in which company representatives go to a particular city and call pilots in for personal interviews. Those who pass the pre-screening blitz are then referred to FlightSafety to schedule the remainder of the interview process.

It may take up to 30 weeks after submitting an application to receive an interview invitation, but having a recommendation from a current NetJets pilot seems to significantly speed the process. Some recommended pilots report receiving an invitation within a couple of weeks of applying.
 

1900cpt

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netjets part II

INTERVIEWING

The interview process typically takes two days, starting at 8 a.m. the first day with a presentation by NetJets management to a group of up to 20 applicants. In a one-hour session, applicants are told about the company’s history, its plans for the future, pay and benefits, and other background information. Afterwards, applicants are paired up for sim rides and given a schedule for face-to-face interviews and checkrides, usually on subsequent days, but not in a predetermined order. There also will be a written psychological test.




In the simulator, NetJets is looking for solid IFR skills, and since the checkride profile is provided by mail when the interview is set up, there are no surprises. Both the pilot flying and pilot not flying are graded on all segments of the checkride, so solid CRM skills and crew coordination are essential for success.

Two current NetJets pilots will conduct the personal interviews. There probably will be a few technical questions about airspace, reading approach plates, and FARs, but most will deal with customer service issues. NetJets historically has favored pilots with some sort of customer service background, so mentioning a retail or hospitality job from a non-flying past can be quite beneficial to a pilot’s hiring chances.

“NetJets pilots require excellent piloting skills and a flare for customer service,” Assistant Chief Pilot Dan Lucey says. Lusk agrees. “It’s one of the most important things we look for.” He explains role-playing questions in the face-to-face interview will offer hypothetical situations a pilot might find himself in while flying for NetJets.

“We want to see how the pilot reacts. Are they going to take care of the owner?” Lusk says. “We are looking for whether or not they can think on their feet, do what they have to do, and take care of the owner at the same time.”

Lusk advises pilots preparing to attend a NetJets interview to contact a current NetJets pilot and ask them about the process, since the company has not significantly changed its pilot interviewing process in years. He also suggests finding out from them, what it’s like working for the company day to day. “Our pilots are the greatest testimony to what life is like at NetJets.”

Behind-the-Scenes Support for Pilots
NetJets employs government-licensed aircraft dispatchers to serve as flight managers, and they assume joint responsibility with an aircraft’s crew for the safety of flights under their guidance. These employees earn certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and are licensed to prepare flight plans that factor in aircraft performance, takeoff and landing weights, current weather conditions, forecasted weather conditions, airport conditions, air traffic volume, and other components required for safe flights.
The FAA does not require fractional ownership program operators to have certified aircraft dispatchers on staff, but NetJets says it feels these professionals are uniquely qualified to effectively support its pilots in performing technical tasks and calculations related to flying corporate jets. NetJets insists not one flight departs until the flight crew and dispatchers have double-checked each other and concur on all aspects of the flight.

All NetJets dispatchers receive five weeks of specialized training from FlightSafety International when they join the company and complete additional training every year, including a refresher course at the start of each season about safety considerations associated with that particular season. Each dispatcher also logs flight time annually with NetJets flight crews to observe the realities involved with effectively supporting the pilots.

NetJets also maintains a staff of full-time meteorologists who use state-of-the-art equipment to obtain and interpret data directly from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellites to provide the company’s pilots and dispatchers with up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. The NetJets meteorology department has received approval from the FAA to become an official source of weather information for NetJets pilots, just like an FAA Flight Service Station. Only a handful of flight departments in the world have this FAA approval.

Netjets says its owners and pilots also have their lives made easier and safer by “intelligence gathering” carried out by fleet support staff. These employees continually monitor conditions at destination airports to make sure the company’s rigorous requirements for safe flight are met, paying particular attention to airports considered potentially problematic before Netjets flights are cleared to land at them. If there are unusual conditions at a particular airport—such as a runway under repair—NetJets fleet support follows progress on those conditions and keeps pilots advised of potential flight planning and scheduling concerns.


As for common mistakes he sees during interviews, Lusk says a lack of currency is something that prospective pilots should address even before applying.

“Or they come to the interview unprepared,” he continues. “They haven’t done their homework. They come to the interview and they don’t realize we are looking for customer service skills.” Talking to current NetJets pilots can help head off such gaffes, Lusk insists, since “they’ve all gone through the same things you are going to go through.”

Chief Pilot Jim Peters also stresses NetJets’ commitment to safety, saying it’s a non-negotiable commitment that permeates the organization and pilots must always keep safety as their foremost objective. “Owner service is a close second to safety,” he says. “Our culture combines the highest level of safety while providing world-class service to our owners.”

Successful applicants will receive a phone call from NetJets shortly after interviewing, while unsuccessful interviewees will be notified by mail.

PILOT LIFE

Operating the world’s largest fleet of business aircraft is one of NetJets’ sources of pride. “Managing an ever-increasing fleet size offers many challenges,” Peters says; not the least of which is preparing pilots to match the aircraft. “Standardization, recruiting, and training are amongst our top priorities.” Currently, NetJets has nearly 270 aircraft in its fleet, with plans to reach more than 310 by this year’s end. Including its subsidiaries throughout the world, NetJets owns or manages nearly 450 aircraft, with approximately 560 on order from Boeing, Cessna, Dassault Falcon, Gulfstream, and Raytheon.

Connecting its more than 2,300 pilots with their aircraft also presents a challenge for NetJets, so two years ago, the Pilot Gateway System was introduced to allow NetJets pilots to choose where they begin and end their tours of duty from 25 gateway locations throughout the United States. The pilots can live practically anywhere they like and the company will pay for him or her to ride a commercial carrier to the location of their aircraft when necessary.

Once on the plane, NetJets pilots go wherever the owners require them and their route and schedule can change almost at any moment. The unpredictable mix of destinations and schedules offers NetJets pilots a truly unique career opportunity, Lucey states.

“NetJets offers a diverse brand of flying second to none,” he says. “In a typical day, a NetJets crewmember can see all four corners of the country. We are definitely not a scheduled carrier and the pilots enjoy the diversity of destinations. Our scheduling options are also very attractive. The typical corporate pilot is on call 24/7; at NetJets, we publish a firm pilot schedule for each month.”

As far as scheduling goes, NetJets pilots have three options that are bid for by seniority: a seven-days-on/seven-days-off routine, a 17-day per month schedule that normally consists of two six-day and one five-day tours, and an alternate flexible schedule that pays slightly more. For those who bid for the alternate program, the schedule is less firm and requires 21 days of availability each month.

For pilots looking for a more predictable lifestyle, the 17-day schedule allows them to know about two months in advance when they will be flying, though their destinations always remain unpredictable. Initial departure can be from any of about 5,000 general aviation airports in the continental U.S., with destinations ranging from almost anywhere within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, or to the Caribbean or Cayman Islands. NetJets’ larger aircraft occasionally fly to Europe or Hawaii.

NetJets pilots are represented by The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Airline Division, Local 124 based in Columbus, OH. Negotiations for a new contract are ongoing, but pay currently begins at about $27,000 to $32,00 per year for a first-year first officer, depending on the type of schedule he or she is flying. A second-year captain can earn up to approximately $40,000 a year, again depending on the type of schedule, with captain pay on most NetJets aircraft maxing out at nearly $96,000 after 14 years. Captains on the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), however, receive pay comparable to rates at many major carriers, starting at more than $138,000 annually and exceeding $217,000 a year after 14 years with the company.
 

1900cpt

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netjets part III

OUTLOOK

Looking to the future for NetJets, which includes continued fleet expansion and pilot hiring, Chief Pilot Peters is optimistic. “With the impressive growth, this is a time that we can help mold this company into a dominant world leader,” he says.

NetJets now counts more than 2,000 companies and individuals among its aircraft owners, including Dow Chemical, General Electric, Gillette, Seagram’s, and Texaco, as well as high-profile individuals such as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, tennis pros Pete Sampras and André Agassi, and professional golfers Dale Douglass and Tiger Woods.

The company expects to complete more than 200,000 flights to more than 140 countries this year, and based on making 250 to 350 domestic flights a day it operates on a scale equal to the eighth-largest air carrier in the United States.

The arrival of BBJs in the NetJets fleet early last year also offers corporate pilots the opportunity to fly a full-size airliner (with the attendant paycheck), as the BBJ is based on Boeing’s popular 737 airframe and flight deck. There also are less tangible benefits to pilots working for NetJets. Lusk firmly believes the relationship between management and its pilots is something unique.

“The pilots can count on the managers to listen at this company. We will never allow a pilot to fly an aircraft that’s not airworthy, or fly if they are tired or sick,” he says.

“I think it’s a big benefit to our pilots. You are going to find a very unique opportunity here that you are not going to find anywhere else.”

Advanced Pilot Training
In addition to type-rating training, NetJets has introduced several specialized aspects to its new-hire training process.
First, every new hire receives a thorough review of the technical knowledge and skills required to fly safely, such as navigation, charting and flight planning, aircraft performance, airport analysis, airspace and air traffic control procedures, instrument procedures, ground icing procedures, and normal and emergency communication procedures.

Crew resource management (CRM) also is heavily emphasized. NetJets teaches that the performance of a flight crew operating as a team surpasses the performance of two highly qualified pilots flying individually. New-hire pilots are extensively trained in the classroom and in full-motion flight simulators in the CRM approach to flying.

To supply crews and passengers with an air supply in the unlikely event of smoke in the aircraft, NetJets has added a measure of safety by implementing the use of the Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVAS). This innovative new system ensures that NetJets crews can continue to fly a plane safely even if the flight deck fills with smoke. The system uses an inflatable plastic bubble that allows both the captain and first officer to view their instruments and see out the windows, no matter how thick the smoke becomes. Since NetJets provides this equipment to both flight crewmembers, all new-hires are thoroughly trained in its use.

Netjets pilots also receive advanced first-aid and CPR training. In addition, medical experts from Mayo Clinic, train them in emergency medical procedures and in the event of a medical emergency onboard a Netjets aircraft, the crews contact Mayo Clinic directly for assistance in responding quickly and effectively to the emergency. Critical care nurses and physicians assess the situation based on information provided by Netjets crews and help determine the most appropriate course of action. A call to a Mayo Clinic in-flight emergency number can also help coordinate medical services when the aircraft lands. All pilots are trained annually in the use of emergency medical kits and other resources onboard the Netjets aircraft.

Since Netjets flies to a wide range of destinations in more than 90 countries worldwide, all pilots are specially trained to manage both domestic and international security-related issues. Netjets’ in-house security staff, together with Air Security International and International Security Associates, supports the crews with international risk assessments, customized intelligence reports, 24-hour global monitoring, and country briefings. All new pilots are trained how to take full advantage of these resources.

Furthermore, in the event of an emergency touchdown in a remote domestic or international area, NetJets pilots are prepared data on the location of the towns and airports along the flight path. During flight, they can call for more in-depth information including the location of hospitals, hotels, and other important assets. The data is gathered from a variety of sources including but not limited to Jeppesen, Air Security International, International Security Associates, and NetJets’ own Safety and Security department.
 

WileE

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Thanks.

Thanks a lot for the info 1900cpt. Is there any chance you could give a rundown of the hiring minimums they refer to? I would appreciate it.
 

1900cpt

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last i heard they are looking for between 5000 and 7000 hrs. Dont know how true it is, but with the amount of resumes on file, that wouldnt surprise me either.

1900cpt
 

1900cpt

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Flyingweasel,

with your profile, you should get in no problem. Is your stuff in now, or our you thinking of applying?!?

1900cpt
 
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Current company informed us flyboys last week that the big guy was seriously looking at cutting us all loose and selling our birds, opting for fractionals himself.

Company utilization is way down and for the last year or so we’ve been most charter ops.

I’ve just started looking hard and I’m seriously eyeing the fractionals, as they appear to be rock solid, well as solid as a rock can get in the aviation community.

Net Jets seems to be where it’s at and I’m itching to get this ball rolling.

What’s the current wait time, is there a gouge online and do they frown on 47 year olds?

Weasel
 

1900cpt

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Sorry to hear about your company possinbly cutting the pilots loose. Your age should not matter. The wait time probably depends on if you have letters from current pilots at NETJETS or not.

Then again, if you dont have an app, that might take a while. As for the gouge...aviationinterviews.com is the most current. If i remember correctly, your profile says that you have gulfstream time?!?

You could also try EJI....not that i like them more than netjets. You might be able to get in there faster with the gulfstream time.

1900cpt
 

machspeed

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hey weasel

In my indoc class 45 was about the average. I'm 42 and I was in the middle of the senority list. We had a few 22 to 26 year olds but we had many retired milatary guys 50plus. The indoc guys were very mixed in backgrounds. Flight Instructors to airline captains to B-52, C130, f-16, helicopters, to many corporate guys. There is no trend on backgrounds in their hiring practices except maybe people skills and personalitys.
 

RJL

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Thanks for posting the article. I am keeping my fingers crossed and checking my mailbox daily for a big or little envelope from the recruiting folks at NetJets. Based on the number of folks applying to this company, my wait could be longer than I thought.

Sounds like the best way to go right now (if given options).

Good Luck All!

RJ
 

reepicheep

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Has anyone who applied online received a call? Does the return email saying "we got your app..." really mean you're in the stack?
 
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