Flying the Line: Atlantic Southeast Airlines

With one Twin Otter, Atlantic Southeast Airlines began operations in 1979 with service between Columbus and Atlanta, GA. Currently 1600 pilots operate over 800 flights on 130 aircraft daily. Since being purchased by Delta airlines in 1999, ASA has seen industry leading advancements and growth. This growth is projected to continue through 2006, beginning in January of 2005 as we convert options on 25 aircraft to firm orders.

After going through ATP’s Airline Career Pilot Program and instructing for them in the Atlanta office, I had all of my ratings and certificates through MEII to complement the 1000 hours total time and 500 hours of multi-engine time on my resume. I began training in August of 1999 as a first officer on the EMB-120. One year later I transitioned to the CRJ. I upgraded to my present position of Captain on the CRJ in March of 2001 with 2000 hours total, 1000 Pic, and 1500 multi.

Current minimums are 1200 hours total, 200 multi-engine, with 100 hours within the last six months. Applicants also need a current first class medical, an FCC radio license, and be at least 21 years of age. The process begins with submitting a resume by mail, fax, or preferably email at [email protected]. The interview consists of a one-on-one Q & A with a line pilot who works for the HR department, a simulator evaluation with an instructor, and a drug screen analysis.

Training begins with one week of basic indoc. This is followed by two weeks of systems, then a week of performance. After three sessions of cockpit procedure training comes eight simulator sessions. Upon successful completion of a check ride and a QLOFT all pilots are given 25 hours of IOE. All training is conducted at the ASA headquarters and adjacent Flight Safety facilities with IOE being conducted on revenue flights with an instructor. Beginning the first day of training, new hires are paid a 75 hour month guarantee and daily per diem of $1.50 per hour while in class. Housing is also provided at a hotel next door with several dining options close by.

At this time first officers are spending about 18 months on reserve in ATL, and about 14 months on reserve in DFW. Reserve pilots are on call 15 hours a day with a two hour callout. All pilots are guaranteed 75 hours per month. Bidding for lines, vacation, upgrades, bases, and equipment is all based on seniority. On average, about 30 percent on the lines are easily commutable. With great travel benefits on all Delta carriers and reciprocal jumpseat agreements with most all major and regional carriers, commuting has become very popular at ASA.

First year pay rates for first officers is $19.02 per hour on all aircraft. Second year on the 50 seat goes up to $33.65 and $37.24 on the 70 seat. Any amount of flying over 75 hours is paid in addition to the 75 hour guarantee. Pilots accrue vacation at the rate of 1.2 days per month for the first year, two weeks per year after one year up to seven years. Pilots with seven to 15 years get 3 weeks, and over 15 years get 4 weeks. Sick time is accrued at 2.75 hours per month of service up to a total of 450 hours. Benefits also include an option for 401(k) contributions up to 25%. After one year of service, ASA will match 20% of the first 6% contributed. This percent varies with years of service afterwards.

The pilots of ASA, represented by ALPA, are in contract negotiations with management at this time. We are receiving positive information on the progress that is being made for both the company and the pilot group.

New aircraft deliveries and the attrition of pilots to national and low-cost carriers should create room for many new faces in our aircraft and names on our seniority lists. More information can be found at www.flyasa.com.