Flying the Line – PlaneSense

ATP’s recruiting partner PlaneSense has hired many very good pilots from ATP using PilotPool.com as their recruiting tool. John Brummeler is just the kind of pilot I am talking about. Scott (as we call him here) came to ATP in early 2013 to begin flight training. Due to Scott’s hard work and natural aptitude he quickly completed his flight training and began flight instructing for ATP. Scott chose to fly for PlaneSense when he had reached the end of his time at ATP and as it is with ATP alumni, Scott has stayed in touch and has agreed to share with you a little about his flying career so far.

How was your transition from training/instructing at ATP to your present flying job?

The transition from Atp to Planesense wasn’t bad at all. Of course it’s a little stressful but the reward is great! Most if not all of the workload at Atp is on you as the instructor. Planesense is a two-pilot crew of qualified, capable pilots so the load is shared with your crewmate. Management organization is good at PlaneSense, and that being said we provide a service with vehicles that are tightly regulated. So things must get shuffled around sometimes at the last moment. MELs (Minimum Equipment List) are a real thing and have to be dealt with! Overall, I’ve found that if you just get in the mindset of “do what I’m told for 8 days” (as long as you are safe and within regulations) then you will be fine.

What kind of aircraft make up your fleet and which one do you fly?

We fly Pilatus PC-12 (45,47,47e). All are very similar and it is hard to tell the difference from the outside. I fly them all. PlaneSense is very fast to train you in all of them. The 47e has an all glass Cockpit with an FMA (Flight Management System). The 45/47 have a 6 pack instrument configuration with EFIS tubes and a Garmin 650. (BOTH LOAD FULL AIRWAYS!!!)

What sort of routes do you fly?

We fly anywhere our customers want to go. They are wealthy people who want what they pay for. Most of our clients are very nice people who are appreciative. I mostly fly the east coast, but I’ve been to west Texas once. Last cycle I was in Canada, then the Bahamas the next day. You are put on the road with an aircraft and the Foc (client/passenger) will use you as best they can.

What kind of pay are you making?

Pay starts at $30,000 for FOs. During training you get two $500 stipends, one after the ground school written and one after passing check ride. After 6 months of satisfactory employment you will receive a $4,000 raise to your salary. Overtime rates at this moment are $500 per overtime day! That’s awesome! PDK (Dekalb-Peachtree Airport) based pilots can count on 1-2 over-time trips a month if they want it. $2.10 per diem an hour for whenever you get to the airport and an hour after you leave. But if your gone it’s about $52 a day. Plus I have a few side jobs for my off days, they don’t care if you fly as long as it doesn’t limit them with time.

What is a typical work day for you?

There really isn’t such a thing as a typical work day or work cycle for us at Planesense. Every day is always different, that’s one of the reasons I chose to go this route instead of flying for the airlines. Yes I have enough time to fly for the Regional Airlines but the thought of constantly flying the same route just to land at another 8,000 + foot runway doesn’t interest me. A 2,100 foot useable runway is the shortest I’ve seen so far, and I’ve also landed at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport (KATL). We can take off from Boston and land on a grass strip simply called “the farm”. It’s an exciting job in aviation that tests your skills while flying a great workhorse of a plane. We are able to go IFR or VFR whichever is more reasonable and efficient. I’ve had one-leg days and I’ve had six-leg days. I’ve served hotel-standby and the ever elusive home-standby a few times! Each counts as a cycle day. This job is never predictable and that’s why the “do what I’m told” mindset is helpful. I will say that I have never been pushed to do something unsafe, and I’ve never been over worked. We stay at nice hotels with your own room! I’ve already stayed at hotels free for a week with my Hilton points.

What is a good example of a great experience you have had while working there?

Let’s face it, it’s a job, have a good attitude or you won’t have a good time at all. Good experiences for me at work include just nailing a landing or doing a flawless textbook flight. Other than that, everyone’s nice and respectable. I’ve been happy here, but I’ve yet to be upset with the company at any point in time.

What is your wait going to be before upgrade?

Upgrade depends on pilot base and need for captains there and obviously 1500 hrs. They want you to upgrade as soon as you feel capable and willing. I’ve been here for 4.5 months and I’m starting the process, it’s different for everyone. I’d say no more than a year depending on your hours. They always told us in training “we hire future captains not FOs”. Base pay for captain is $50,000!

What opportunities for advancement do you have there?

Advancement at this company has little to do with seniority. I like that myself, the harder you work the more you advance. We are currently starting our jet program, so FO pc-12, captain pc-12, we will have 4 nextant jets (cool re-done beach jet with winglets and quiet engines) as our transition jet to the pc-24. So FO to the jet, captain to the jet. The jet pay scale tops at $130,000. Captain for the pc-12 tops at $85,000

Scott is in a perfect place career-wise. He is achieving his career goals and is on track to go far in aviation, no matter where he decides to fly. The seamless career track that Scott is on began with his first call to ATP’s admissions Pros. They quickly set him on the path to success, which began with flight training with ATP.