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Pinnacle Airlines Pilot Interview Profiles

Date Interviewed: January 2007
Summary of Qualifications: ATP 4,700 (Mainly multi Engine Land -- Military)
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
Day 1. Interview Prep with ALL ATP (Helps with testing and resume)
Day 2. 9 of 10 interviewed were hird (class dates 15, 22 Jan , 5, 19 Feb)
- 0800 written Test (25 multiple choice, 10 fill in the blank)
-- WX questions (mature thunderstorm, frost on aircraft can you go)
-- Light gun signal (flasing red from tower on approach)
-- Max Airspeed at 10,000 feet
-- Can you continue approach if inside the IAF and on glideslope (GS) and the WX goes below mins. (Not at the recommended GS intersept altitude.)
-- Service ceiling, absolute ceiling, corrections for dutch roll
-- CG questions, stability questions (nuetral, dynamic, positive)
-- know viscous breaking
- 1000 HR and Technical Interview with 2 FO's.
-- Initial Formalities (passport, drivers license, medical certifiate, log book review, FCC license and Flying certificate)
-- Hands you a WX readout and ask you if you need to file alternate
-- Brief Approach plate and then ask various questions (MSA, notes, what if lights go out on runway)
-- Part 121 questions about taking an aircraft
-- Why fly with this airlines?
-- List one of your weeknesses, strength?
-- Tell me about a time when you got made in flight and what did you do?
-- Would you have problems flying with a captain junior to you?
- 1400 SIM Eval (Chief Pilot from Memphis)
-- T/O and climb to 3,000 feet (evaluating radio and checklist calls)
-- Turns, altitude control, intercept a radial and track
-- Vectors for ILS (good WX entire time), directed Missed Approach
-- Holding (briefed entry procedures, timing and headings) -- stopped SIM
- 1700 Exit Interview (Chief Captain from Memphis briefed)
-- We were all told we had a job except 1 who didn't have hours. They are hiring 500 pilots this year. They are doubling class training and we could all start as early as the next class date in 5 days. They want you if you are qualified.
-- Training at Memphis (They pay for hotel and give you $200 a week)
-- Hubs are Detroit and Minn/Saint Paul (Detroit is moving fast)
-- One guy was only 18 yesrs old, but had min hours. Most of the guys were in their 20's with min hours. One guy was 47 with min time!!

Date Interviewed: November 2006
Summary of Qualifications: MEII, 1100 PIC
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:

I'd like to give back some info to the site as I found it very beneficial when I was in need. I'm currently flying for Pinnacle after a few months of training and need to give a heads up on a few things to those thinking about jumping into this. You need to have current ATP written knowledge and also be able to teach yourself quickly or you are wasting your time. From interview day to currently flying the line after 5 months, I've seen a few not make it. Details to follow. I initially got an interview date after emailing the resume in and talking to HR. They were great after dealing with a few other regional carriers that were sketchy and didn't even return calls/questions. If you study the gouge on here you will be fine. Do not call the guy on here advertising interview prep in Memphis unless you are going to FedEx. You can go to the Olive Branch airport and play on the Frasca sim and read the gouge yourself (most prepped for about 2 months with the ATP written).
The interview process; you'll start off with the 50 question written which is mostly ATP questions mixed with Memphis approach plates (holding instructions, speed restrictions). Class size will then be cut in half due to failures. Next is the Frasca sim...very unstable and fast to those not used to flying around at 200kts. Practice the Frasca on your own using full power on a few Memphis approaches until you're fully competent tracking and intercepting a VOR and ILS with steam guages. Then the HR/Technical portion. Know your current airplane limitations, (V-speeds, weights), Jepp plates and be able to make a decision on a scenario such as lost comm.. with low fuel. You may have already experienced this if you have a few hundred PIC hours in your local 1968 c172. The HR gal is really nice and just wants to know a little about you and your personality. Now you get to enjoy your box lunch and wait for the exit interview. For this you meet with two Captains who seem to just chat for a bit and get to know you. I was a little nervous because I couldn't answer a few scenario questions simply because I never worked in a crew environment. Use a little common sense and you'll be fine. Would you tell the chief Pilot if your captain didn't use his checklist? There's really no feedback after all of this (6 of us were left at this point, out of the original 25 by the way) and I finally received a call after about 3 weeks.
If you do pass the interview, something to think about is ground school. It's not the greatest (read easy and no value). The reason I bring this up is simple; if you could pass the interview, you most likely have the drive and self-start attitude it takes to continue. Once you get on the line you will wonder why they wasted time talking about VASIs when they could have told you how to bid on a line (work schedule) or work the ACARS computer on the plane, or what a flameout on a jet engine is, or tell you about the conflict and work rules between management and Union, or to pack food once you do start flying because their discount hotels don't provide eggs when you're going to work at 530am. Helpful stuff to know, but this is the positive attitude thing I mentioned earlier that comes in handy. Also during ground school expect management to come in and mention, "Thanks for coming. We know that the pay is low here but FedEx is hiring so keep your head in the books and work real hard." Don't know about you but not exactly the motivational speech I'd like to hear to start my 121 career.
Also mentioned is the attrition loss at about 25 pilots per month but it seems like most are just leaving the industry. This is how the regionals stay alive by the way: low pay and higher turnover than any other industry. Three years out of college and I'm now making $20,000/year while buddies from college are easily tripling that on the average, (like my cop friend making $80+ first year). In five years the pay may be $60k year if I choose to take on the liability and checkrides a captain has to deal with. Not worth it. Currently the captain upgrades are not passing the ground school as planned and now have to deal with a whole new can of worms. Also something to think about. A few new hires in my class didn't pass their initial when it came to their oral exam simply due to 1) lack of PIC time (confidence and decision making) and 2) their unwillingness to commit any further with the company.
The Simulator training phase is the most intense and valuable. Realize this is not a flight school but a 10-session indoc as to using the company flight manual and using it to make decisions. Take this time to re-read the previous sentence. Most if not all of your non-121 flying up to this point you can dismiss. The sims will introduce you to detailed takeoff and landing standard callouts and profiles, flying a new plane and interpreting a plethora of glass cockpit and automation information available to you. We lost two during this phase, now with a total of five gone. One was due to low PIC time and the other not willing to commit to the company. Not sure if you would call this their loss or gain, just what they chose to do.
The initial operating experience you receive once reporting to your base (DTW, MEM, MSP) is where you get to apply everything learned so far. You won't know what the heck is going on for a few days but humans seem to adapt to their surroundings and it falls into place. All I can say is try to stay motivated with your $400 paycheck! (Remember that positive attitude?) Once finished with OE, a reserve schedule (line) is given to you where you are on standby for those who time out (work more that a 16 hr duty day). You will then be scheduled high-speeds! This is a really cool word describing flights where you get to fly the last trip out at 10pm, arrive at your hotel and sleep by 1am then wake by 5am for the first flight out. Most just stay up and believe sleeping only makes it worse. Personally I enjoy sleep, and food (but pack your own and don't spend your $1.30/hour per diem all at once). Chalk up two more losses from our original class after this.
One thing I have not touched on yet is the Union. What a disaster. Think about doing your current job. Now imagine trying to focus while 200 others are in a 'strategic' protest/picket in front of the Corporate headquarters. It's embarrassing. Remember when you were little and tried a temper tantrum to get something? I'm not sure what this accomplishes.I make $20k/year, am limited to 16 hour duty days and my ALPA "brothers" at Continental or United are making six figures. Personnaly I believe the problem rests with AOPA telling people how great the profession is while ALPA cannot fix it. I am told the Union is responsible for developing safe practices though, because the company only cares about profits. I feel very safe now and so have accepted paying union dues.
To sum it up, if you don't like to hang out in hotels, take home $1400 per month, share a room with 6 other grown men (a.k.a. crash pad), and need to pay for $70,000 of training and college, find a different career. Honestly. The liability you carry, and fine line you dance (end up with a minor incident on your record which will jeopardize your career) is not worth it. ask an airline buddy about their current union grievances if you can. But this is how the low cost carriers survive and support executive's salaries, high turnover and low costs. If you really want to try this go for it and I hope you find this a useful heads up. It seems like most of us still around from our original groundschool including myself will do this simply to get it out of our system for a year or two and say we tried. The good news is that I have seen one person hired by a major (Spirit). The bad news is he gets to do it all over again starting at $32k.

Date Interviewed: November 2006
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? No
Pilot Interview Profile:

The interview consisted of 3 parts:
1. Knowledge Test

The test consisted of 50 questions. 40 were multiple choice that were from the ATP question bank. Most of the questions were in regard to instrument rules/procedures and weather. Study the ATP questions and you will be fine.
The last 10 questions were fill in the blanks. They were all regarding reading instrument plates and were mostly on takeoff minimums (ex: RVR is controlling and takes precedence over visibility). If you know how to read approach plates and airport takeoff minimums, you will have no problem with the last 10 questions.

Know your holding speeds and altitudes. That question came up at least 3 times on the test (Minimum Holding Altitude-6000=200 KIAS, 6001-14000=230 KIAS, >14000=265 KIAS).


If you have not flown in a FRASCA sim ever or recently, do yourself a favor: PAY FOR FRASCA time! The FRASCA is a hard machine to fly. I have over 20 hours in one and the best tip I can give anyone is to accept the altitude and heading deviations that are inherent in flying the sim. Don't panic if your altitude is +-100' or heading +-10 degrees. If you start chasing it, you will beging to lose focus on everything else. It is very hard to trim the FRASCA, so just keep moving your hands and feet on the controls to fly straight/level.

The aircraft profile we flew was in a Beechcraft Baron. The best power settings I have found for the FRASCA 142 are:

Rotate 80 KIAS, Pitch 10 degrees up for a 120 KIAS climbout.

Cruise @ 180KIAS, Approx. 21" MP
Cruise @ 150KIAS, Approx. 16" MP
Approach @ 140 KIAS, No Flaps, Approx. 14" MP
ILS Approach @ 120 KIAS, 20-30% Flaps,Approx.12" MP

The profile for the sim ride was:

1. Takeoff 18R KMEM
2. Climb 3000', intercept and track outbound on the 220 radial from the MEM VOR.
3. Vectored around for the ILS 36L approach. Expect to intercept the glideslope at 1,800'. This happens pretty fast, so don't waste time slowing the plane down when you get cleared for the approach.
4. At DA (521'), go missed, fly rwy heading, 3000'.
5. The sim instructor will then pause you and move the plane near the MEM VOR. You then are cleared to fly direct MEM and are given holding instructions. You have to figure out the entry. In my case it was hold North on the 360 radial, right turns. I was on a 330 course direct, so it was a teardrop entry. I flew the entry and inbound intercept before he stopped the session.
The instructor will not care that you mess with the prop and mixture controls or any other system. They are only concerned with your basic BAI flying skills, ILS approach, and entering a hold properly.

3. HR & Technical Interview

The technical interview questions I remember are:

What is the maximum speed you can fly at 10,000'? (The 250 rule is BELOW 10,000)

Looking at a TAF and given an ETA, do you have to declare an alternate? (Ceiling <3000, Visibility <3SM)

What is Dutch Roll?

Some questions about Swept Wing vs basic wing designs.

A scenario about whether or not you are at the final approach fix/segment on an ILS when you are above the minimum published intercept altitude?

A scenario where the visibility is below minimums for the approach, but you see the approach lights. Can you continue the approach and land?

A scenario where you go lost comm and have enough fuel to hold for 45 minutes and fly to your alternate. The visibility is below minimums at your intended destination. Do you try the approach or fly to your alternate?

What are your weaknesses?

How do people make you angry?

How do you handle stress?

Why do you want to be a pilot?

I hope this information helps those of you who have interviews lined up with Pinnacle. I was not offered the job, but will say the people are very friendly and laid back. The sim instructor was a Captain and very friendly. He was not there to trick or bust anyone. Don't stress over the Sim ride! If you haven't flown a Frasca, then as I said before, it is worth the money to get 1-2 hours in one with an instructor to get a feel for it. Flying based on computer logic is very different from the real thing. And remember accept the deviations! The instructor knows how hard it is to fly the Frasca, he/she has probably sweat in one many times prior to getting the 4 stripes.

Good luck!

Date Interviewed: July 2006
Summary of Qualifications: ATP, FE Written, 5000 TT, 4100 Multi, 4000 Turbine,3300 Turbine PIC, Part 135
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:

STAY AT THE BAYMONT. I was the only one in my interview group who did and probably the only one who slept at night - the 3am FedEx rush missed me completly. I called the Baymont ahead of time and they gave me the Northwest rate of $49/nite. They are also located around the corner from Pinnacle's office - you could walk if you had too, they were happy to take me in the hotel shuttle. The previous gouge's are great, but DOUBLE-CHECK their answers to the question, I did and found a lot of them wrong. Know the gouge and you'll do fine on the written test, I was first done in my group and I scored an 86, high score I think was a 90, need 70 to pass and some people didn't make it. The HR/Tech interview was conducted by two captains, they were short staffed with 20 of us interviewing. Know your approach plates cold, know your airplane you fly cold. The biggest thing they are looking for (I think) is CONFIDENCE. Be strong with your answers, don't hesitate or second guess yourself, and stick to your guns. If they see you shift they will try and lead you away from your answer, stick with it! If you don't know something say you don't know, confidence! The sim is a breeze, don't worry about studying the profile, they lead you through it before you fly. You don't even need the approach plate in front of you for the approach. Can you intercept and track a radial? Fly and ILS? Know how to enter a hold? You'll do fine. The exit interview was the toughest (if you make it this far hold on, because odds are they want you, people were dismissed at any stage along the way). At the exit interview (two captains) they will try and rattle you, good cop/bad cop sorta thing. Answer the questions and don't get frustrated when they cut you off or don't like your answer. Be honest, confident, make sure you have at least one intelligent question for them, because they'll ask if you have any. Good luck, don't panic.

Date Interviewed: July 2005
Summary of Qualifications: ATP Writen 2500 TT 1300 Multi
Were you offered the job? No
Pilot Interview Profile:

Phase 1, 50 question writen test. 40 multipul question, 10 fill in the blank. I had just taken the ATP test so I thought I would do prity well on this. I got a 70%. Alot of questions on swept wing and mach.

Phase 2, sim ride in a fraska I think it is called. Take off vectored to the ILS36R in Memphis go around to a hold over the VOR, using 2 VOR,s (no GPS)

Phase 3, interview, a few human resorses questions and questions about the plane i fly now.

Phase 4, exit interview. Simply put do you think you will make it through training.

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