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Trans States Airlines Pilot Interview Profiles

Date Interviewed: March 2016
Summary of Qualifications: ATP, CFI, 2200 total time, 1500 multi, 135 experience
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
Interviewed at Trans States Headquarters in STL. They positive spaced me out there, and I stayed at the Pear Tree Inn at the airport. Free breakfast and shuttle to the interview.

Showed up around 8:40 for a 9 AM interview. There were 3 of us interviewing. First we had a group presentation with a pilot recruiter and an assistant chief pilot, where we went around the room and introduced ourselves, what kind of flying we're doing now, why TSA, etc. Then they went over an in depth power point presentation on everything TSA has to offer, such as history, work rules, union stuff, etc.

Then as they looked over our paperwork/logbooks, we took a 50 question ATP style test. Some of the questions were directly from the ATP database, and there were a few originals in there. I had spent a few days studying with the ASA ATP prep iPad app and did fine. No questions involving math/weight and balance/performance. Mostly airspace, airport operations, regs, speed limits, aerodynamics, approach procedures from what I remember.

After the written test, had a one on one interview while the others waited in the break room. Standard HR questions: Tell me about your flying history. Why TSA? Why should TSA hire you? Tell me about a difficult person you flew with, how did you deal with it, what did you learn from it. Have you ever been arrested, failed a checkride, been in an accident etc. Then a few technical questions. He asked a couple questions about the plane I'm currently flying: Tell me about a turbocharger. Descent planning question- You're at 10,000 ft and need to cross the VOR at 6,000 ft, how far out do you start a descent? Then a couple questions on Jepp charts/airport diagram. Identify hot spots and hold short instructions etc. You get to minimums and see only approach lights, what do you do. I've never used Jepps but managed to make it through fine. Luckily I did well on the written so I think that gave me some buffer going into the technical portion.

They offered me the position and a class date on the spot. The whole process was pretty straightforward and painless. They were all friendly and I never felt nervous or pressured at all. They want to hire you, just don't give them a reason not to and you should be fine. The whole process was about 3 hours.
Date Interviewed: April 2015
Summary of Qualifications: 7700 TT, ATP, A&P, CFI/II Multiple type ratings
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
Met one Captain at the FSI building at 7:30 am. We grabbed a cup of coffee and discussed the company outlook, his experience at the company, my previous experience, my resume, etc.. I gave him my paperwork and logbooks to review while I took the 50 question ATP test. There is a board on the wall with the runway marks on it. Several questions off of an approach plate (altitude and distance along certain points of the approach). The previous interview gouge covered it very well. I actually did poorly on the test, since it had been 15 years since taking my ATP test. The guys who have just taken it should have no problem. If it's been a few years, probably not a bad idea to refresh on some of it. You cannot fail the test, but it's nice to be prepared. There was no sim evaluation or in depth technical review in my interview. The interview was finished around 9:30, and I was told that I was recommended for hire. The Captain who interviewed me was a great guy, and gave me a good feeling about the direction of the company, as well as his personal experience. He had previous 121 experience at another company before TSA, and gave TSA good marks.
Date Interviewed: April 2014
Summary of Qualifications: CFI/II/MEI 1350TT 240ME 22Turbine
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
Stayed at the Holiday Inn as recommended by Trans States the night before the interview. However, the Holiday Inn no longer provides free shuttle service to Flight Safety Inc. as mentioned and TSA has been notified of the recent changes.

Interview time: 0730

I arrived at Flight Safety Inc. at 0600 to help familiarize myself with the buildings and find that Sabreliner cockpit diagram as said in the previous interview gouge. 0600; however, is very early but it is recommended to arrive at least an hour before to catch any early TSA members who may arrive. With my luck, one member of the board, a line Captain, arrived to the facility at 0645 and we discussed about the airline amongst other things. Very relaxing.

Around 0715, the other applicant arrived along with the two other TSA members, head of human resources and another Captain. At 0730, the interview started with a questions and answers session for about an hour. The Q&A was merely a personality session and at no point did TSA make you feel uncomfortable. The session was very enjoyable and they're are there to give the best information they can about the company and or concerns. Be yourself and remain open!

Around 0900, I volunteered to take TSA's modified version of the ATP Written exam (50 questions). While I took the test, the other applicant was taken away for the simulator evaluation. To be fair, I do not necessarily want to explain each individual question on the test; however, review airport signage, pros and cons of sweptback wings, basic knowledge of weather theory (TS), weather data interpretation (METAR, TAF), airspeed restrictions, and IFR approach plates + symbology. After a quick 30 minutes, I managed to slip away with a 94%. If you have recently taken the ATP written exam, there is no need to prep in advance if you feel comfortable with general knowledge of the above subject areas.

Around 0945, I was pulled away for the simulator evaluation portion. Both Captains will be present in the cockpit with one acting as your First Officer and the other as an air traffic controller. Do not feel the need to be nervous as I was at this point because the acting FO will brief the basic operations of the aircraft such as the electronic trim, the attitude indicator, the horizontal situation indicator, and the EPR gauge + their settings (1.5 climb, 1.2 cruise).

*** Simulator tasks ***
a. "Climb and maintain 4,000, upon reaching 1,500, turn left heading 090, cleared for takeoff." (Maintain at or below 250kts and use 10 degrees nose pitch up)
b. While at 4,000, "Turn left direct to the Memphis VOR." While in the 180 degree turn, "Give me 30 degrees of bank." (Don't forget to add a touch of power in the turn to maintain speed)
c. While flying to the VOR, "What are you to do when you are approaching the VOR's EFC time?" Review holding speeds below 10,000ft.
d. "Hold North of the Memphis VOR on the 360 degree radial, standard turns." At my present location, I answered with a teardrop entry. Do not forget to tell the FO what they need to do when you cross the VOR (Heading, CDI change, and time).
e. Leaving the hold, I received vectors to intercept the localizer for an ILS approach. Maintain 150 knots once established on the glideslope. (Acting FO will take command of the gear and flaps)
d. Upon "breaking out" at 1,000ft AGL, continue following the glideslope for a visual landing.

During the simulator evaluation, the Captains are looking for basic scanning abilities and basic flying skills. Do your best and have fun!

After the simulator evaluation, the technical interview will begin. Fortunately enough, my interview consisted of a discussion of my airlineapps application and any other further concerns that I may have for the company. I did notice on the board that the other applicant was given a descent calculation from FL340 to FL220 with a 420knot GS and demanded a 2,000ft/m rate of descent. There was also a discussion of holding pattern entries as illustrated on the board. Around 1130, I was offered a position with the company and I couldn't be any happier.

TSA will provide transportation to their headquarters after the interview and if accepted, will commence fingerprinting.

Trans States Airlines as a company has astounded me in their quality of life for the pilots. As most regionals are in present time, it can be difficult starting out and the company recognizes it from the interview. With the benefits and other amenities that the company offers, I look forward to a training date in June. And the best part was... On the flight back home, I sat next to a TSA Captain with employment of six years of the company and although there was ups and downs with the GoJet incident, I heard nothing but positives from the Captain.

Go out there and be yourself! I hope this helps.
Date Interviewed: January 2014
Summary of Qualifications: CFI, CFII, CFMEI, 1360 TT, 135 Multi, no turbine experience.
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
I stayed at Crowne Plaza, recommended by Trans-States. Great rate, great facility. I caught the 6:30 shuttle to Flight Safety, arriving around 6:45 am. That allowed me time to walk around, and study the cockpit diagram of the Sabreliner on the wall, which is the simulator that is used for the interview. Around 7 am, Mike arrived early, and we chatted for about 30 minutes. The other candidates arrived, and the formalities started at 7:30. We did an informal Q&A for about 2 hours, in which I got all of my questions answered. This is the time to demonstrate your personality, and knowledge of the company. Ask questions that show you know what you’re talking about, that you want the job more than anything, and that any pilot in the company could easily spend a four-day trip with you. Mike, the lead recruiter, and a captain, mentions that personality is the biggest factor in hiring. You obviously caught their attention if they bought you an airline ticket, and the job is yours to lose. After this, you take a 50-question written test. Study the gouge from Sheppard Air, it’s a great place to start. About 10 of the questions were not on the gouge, but if you study hard and analyze the questions, they aren’t too hard. After this, you jump into the simulator. I’d recommend getting practice in a jet procedures trainer if possible before the interview, since the simulator is a full level-D, highly realistic simulator. However, motion is disengaged so you don’t get that feedback. You take off, get vectors and altitudes, then get set up for an ILS and hand fly down to minimums and land. I never went more than half-scale deflection, but it was hard. USE TRIM! And monitor your speed. It’s very easy to blow past speed restrictions in this aircraft. After the sim eval, you do an HR interview. The other two candidates spent about 30 minutes in the interview. Mine was quick. A review of my airlineapps application, total flight time, a simple descent calculation problem, and then I was offered the job. I asked why the HR interview was so short: they said I did very well on the written and simulator, and that I was very personable. With that in mind, my advice to you is to be personable. They can tell when you just memorize answers out of an interview prep book. Not to say you shouldn’t study hard, because they may dig deeper if they feel they need to, but the biggest factor on getting hired seems to be personality. I think that, by the time you’ve been invited for an interview, they’ve already reviewed your application meticulously, and they know that they want to hire you. They just need to see proficiency in a simulator, passing of a written, and personality, which cannot be expressed through an application. If you have any sense of entitlement, it may hinder your chance of getting hired. Remember, having a job is a privilege, not a right. I saw some of the candidates were not offered a job, even though they had lots of part 121 experience, and I think attitude might have played a part. I’m not the recruiter though, so I don’t know that for sure.
Date Interviewed: August 2013
Summary of Qualifications: CFI, CFII, MEI 1330TT 80MEL
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
This was my first airline interview, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Arrived the evening before and stayed at the Best Western, as recommended by the airline for the reduced rate (~$50). Took the hotel shuttle to show at 7:30 at Flight Safety, right by the airport. Ultimately, there were three of us interviewed, but the third guy showed up late since he got bad directions. One was a CFI from the area and the other a furloughed corporate pilot. A little after 7:30, we were greeted by an HR guy (he was a former captain at the company, though) and an intern. From there, we sat down in the lobby and he gave a 5 minute presentation on the company and then fielded questions. When I expressed my concern that TSA only operates 50 seat jets, he countered by saying that there is still a viable market for 50 seat jets and the airline will continue to exhibit controlled, measured growth. Make of that what you will. He also said you’re likely to get either the STL or IAD base, it’s really your preference. Pilots are going to the line almost right away and upgrade time is anywhere from 16-18 months. I have no facts to back this up, only what he said.

After the Q&A, we were taken one-by-one for the sim eval. It was very laid back. No briefings, no checklists, no kneeboard. It was a Sabre80 sim. It has poor graphics, it doesn’t move, and it feels like you’re stepping into a piece of history. Put all of that aside though, because it’s extremely pitch sensitive. They will caution you before the session to use the trim judiciously, and in my case, will remind you during the flight. Remembering this, I was within 100ft of my altitude at all times. Really not so bad. You take off with the instruction to climb to 4000ft. During the climb you get a 90 degree turn to the right. After level off, another 90 degree right turn. They do want to see you manage the thrust appropriately so your speed stays below 250k. From there you get maybe a 150degree right turn for a LOC intercept to start an ILS back to the original runway. The intern sat in the right seat and did flows and checklists. As they told me before the sim, they just want to evaluate your basic flying skill. In addition to getting your gear and flaps, the intern gives you a EPR setting that works well for coming down on the approach. Overall, the airplane seemed pretty stable by that point and I was as comfortable as I could be during an interview on a Jurassic jet. You “break out” before minimums and land. My landing wasn’t pretty, but they didn’t seem to care. I talked throughout the entire flight, describing what I was doing and why, and that I was correcting altitude and heading deviations. They seemed to really like that- they brought it up after the sim and later during the HR/tech interview.

A lot of waiting while the other sims went on (about 20 minutes each) and then more waiting for the HR/tech interview. When it was finally my turn, they briefly went over my airline apps application and my resume. We made some small talk about school and then went on to the technical portion. They gave me a descent planning problem. Something like, “you’re this many miles from ABC traveling at 420k and you want to descent at 200fpm. You need to cross ABC at 10,000 and you’re at 28,000 now, so how far out do you need to start descending?” Then they asked me to describe a system of my choice from an airplane of my choice. I picked the engine from a 172. No questions on that. Maybe one or two HR scenario type questions (CA descends below minimums on an approach) and that was it. Was offered the job on the spot and done by 11:30. Despite what I have heard about this company, everyone was extremely friendly. They also acknowledged that they have not had the best reputation of a regional and are working in elements of the contract and at the management level to fix that. Whether or not that is true, it was an extremely positive experience overall. Good luck!
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