FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE
Amway uses broad mix of aircraft to develop opportunities and further company growth
Multilevel marketing giant keeps its business personal using fleet of large-cabin Gulfstreams, Bombardier Challenger 300s, Cessna Citation CJ3s and Sikorsky S76.
Dir Rick Fiddler (L) and VP Corp Relations Robin Horder-Koop with the Alber-Rowley Trophy on permanent display at Gulfstream SAV. Horder-Koop has been with Amway for 31 years and served as Fiddler’s direct report for 5. Fiddler credits her with being instrumental in directing the flight department.
“We’ve been flying internationally for so long, we have designed and implemented our own in-house international training course,” says Luciani. “We stay up to date by sending 2 pilots to the Intl Operators Conference (IOC) each year.”
Rollins and Luciani complement each other in the chief pilot role, with Rollins having more helicopter experience than Luciani, while Luciani has more international experience. This works well, notes Rollins: “Rick, Larry and I run everything by each other as a team.” Since Amway established a flight department, 5 pilots have stayed for 30 years or more.
One of them is Senior Captain Bill Westfall, who started flying for Amway in 1977. Westfall, who has 15,500 hrs TT (all of them fixed-wing), joined the company after serving in the US Air Force, where he flew Lockheed T33s and Martin EB57s.
Today Westfall flies an average of 35–50 hrs a month on domestic and international trips. As G400 lead pilot, Westfall is a member of the standardization team and is responsible for G400 fleet procedures.
He explains that certain safety measures are specific to the company, such as the restriction on night arrivals at ASE (Aspen CO) and other airports in mountainous terrain. “Safety and service have got to be our main priorities,” he says. “We don’t push the envelope.” In his 33 years’ experience flying for Amway, Westfall has seen some changes—but the constant factors carry considerable weight.
“This company wouldn’t be where it is without corporate aviation,” he says. “This was a good place to work when I got here 33 years ago, and it’s an even better place now.”
Scheduling and dispatching
Flight dept lineup in Jun 1980—(L–R) 2 BAC 1-11s, 2 Citation IIs, a Citation I and a Bell 206L LongRanger. (Inset) The very first aircraft Amway used—in 1962—was this chartered Mooney.
All international trips must be approved by Amway Pres Doug DeVos, Chairman Steve Van Andel and Chief of Staff Bill Payne.
Domestic trips can be approved by senior VPs. With so many airplanes, scheduling can be what Fiddler calls “an interesting puzzle.” While some trips are planned more than a year in advance, and international trips are planned at least 3 weeks out, there are frequent pop-ups.
However, as Rollins says, “When a pop-up trip does occur, our entire team pulls together—from the schedulers to the maintenance team, the pilots and the flight attendants. It’s really a non-issue, because we have a great group of people working in our department who love getting the job done no matter what the time frame.”
Luciani agrees: “We’ve never had a problem filling a trip.” Amway has 3 full-time senior schedulers, who work overlapping shifts from 0730–2000 Monday– Friday and are on call on weekends. Nancy Carlson is the longest serving of the three.
She started working for Amway in 1973 and has been a scheduler for the past 16 years. Carlson trained on the job. “I love working with people,” she says, “and I work with a bunch of good people. Not only that, but every day is different.”
Amway Aviation’s travel coordination team in action—(L–R) Senior Schedulers Deanna McCormick, Nancy Carlson and Mollie McClure.
Amway makes use of Professional Flight Management (PFM) for setting up domestic and international trips, and uses Air Routing Intl (ARI) for overseas trip planning, landing and overflight permits. Deanna McCormick has an FAA dispatcher’s license and handles most international trips, although, she notes, “We all do each other’s jobs.”
McCormick joined Amway in May 2007 after working for ARINC for 2.5 years. “Our schedule changes every day,” she says. “From Thanksgiving to Christmas is our busiest period because so many company functions mean the aircraft are out a lot.” For McCormick, “the satisfaction of the job is making sure every trip goes as planned.”
Before she became a scheduler. Mollie McClure spent 3 years as an Amway flight attendant—when needed, she still serves occasionally in that role on both domestic and international trips. All 3 schedulers have different backgrounds. McClure knows the DeVos and Van Andel families from her time as a flight attendant and schedules their trips.
She also handles the billing for all Amway trips. “I don’t know if we ever have a slow time or a busy time,” says McClure. “It’s all busy.” What she enjoys is “making passengers happy and completing the mission.” And, if an aircraft goes tech or some other wrinkle appears in the trip, “scrambling to get it going—that’s fun, especially when you can do it seamlessly.”
Keeping them flying Amway has been certified as a Part 145 repair station for more than 20 years. Chief of Maintenance Tom Meier joined Amway 23 years ago from the world of commercial airline maintenance.
Starting as a technician, he later became a chief inspector and crew leader, and was promoted to chief of maintenance in Mar 2002. Meier has a staff of 13 mechanics and 5 support staff. All technicians are qualified A&P/IAs. While teams operate in 2 staggered shifts—0700 to 1530 and 1430 to 2300—schedules inevitably drive working hours.
Maintenance crew team members surround Chief of Maint Tom Meier (at wheel of tug). Technician turnover at Amway is almost nonexistent—Meier has hired only 4 mechanics in the past 8 years.
There is very little turnover—1 mechanic has been with Amway for 32 years—and Meier has hired only 4 technicians since 2002. Applicants must hold an A&P licence—in addition, says Meier, they must be versatile enough to be a flight attendant.
Long-haul flights require the presence of a technician, who must be willing to travel and double up on duties. Having a crew chief for each individual aircraft ensures that maintenance stays on schedule, says Meier, while having 1 crew leader per shift helps with coordinating work in house.
With almost $2 million in parts, Amway can do everything up to wing demating in house. Some limited avionics repairs are undertaken, but all work on the Gulfstreams’ HUD/EVS units is done by Elbit/Kollsman.
Product support from airframe and engine manufacturers has always been excellent, says Meier. The same applies to outside MRO service. Duncan Aviation and ADI Aerodynamics at PTK (Pontiac MI) carry out most heavy maintenance on the CJ3s, while Amway’s 2 Challenger 300s are still relatively new and have not presented any issues so far.
In particular, Meier notes, “Support from Gulfstream is top-notch.” All in all, says Meier, “This is a great place to work. I have good people to work with—and for. We have good equipment to work on. And I think we have fun.”