FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE PROFILE
ProCaps vitamin company generates TWC Aviation
Success in marketing health supplements feeds corporate flight dept along with TWC charter and aircraft mgmt, sales and acquisitions.
TWC Aviation CEO Andrew Richmond was intimately involved in every aspect of designing the new VNY base as well as putting together the merger with SJC (San Jose CA)-based ACM Aviation.
Aircraft prices are still generally down and pilot salaries have been flat for the past 2 years or so. Meanwhile, charter rates are at the same level they were 10 years ago says ACM Aviation VP Business Development Greg Johnson.
"Supply and demand has driven charter rates down substantially. GVs and GIVSPs are chartering for the same rates as 10 years ago." TWC has recently added a GV, Falcon 900EX, Falcon 2000LX and Hawker 800XPs to the mix.
Pilot hiring and lifestyles
TWC believes in an extensive interview process. A multilevel hiring process involves meeting with all ops managers, written testing and an interview with the company CEO. There's also a technical aspect to evaluations. "We may ask a candidate to brief an approach to TEB, analyze weather or complete mental math questions to confirm technical knowledge," says Unterberger. "We want to make sure we're getting good well-rounded people."
Always on the lookout for "A" player pilots TWC will often hire even if there's not a specific job opening available says Arcemont. "We don't want to miss out on an outstanding applicant just because we don't have a position ready and open."
As most of TWC's work is on-demand charter crews must adapt to short notice flight departures. Crews have a minimum of 13 hard days off per quarter but, when on call, are expected to be at the airport ready for departure within 2 hrs—wheels up in 3 hrs—of a call.
Dir Ops Jay Arcemont believes in a rigorous pilot hiring process and is always on the lookout to hire "A" list pilots.
While typical trips are 3–5 days overseas missions may involve 10–14 days on the road. Generally 3–4 pilots are assigned to each aircraft with 5–6 pilots often qualified on longer-range equipment. Contract pilots, trained to the same standards as TWC crews, are brought in as required and hired on employee agency agreements rather than as self-employed contractors.
Pay is industry average. Benefits package includes short and long-term disability, loss of license insurance, 401K plan, full medical plus deep discounts on ProCap vitamin products.
Capt Joshua Petty has 5000 hrs TT, joined TWC in 2004 and is current on the Citation X.
"We're always ready to fly, and departures are typically short notice, but the work environment is very rewarding," he says. "We have access to excellent training and time commitments are not onerous. But it's the corporate culture that really sets us apart."
Capt Terry Santiago joined TWC as a full-time pilot in 2010, is currently type rated on the Gulfstream V and G550 and says he consumes ProCaps vitamin products on a regular basis. "We're on call 12–14 days each month and typically fly 40 hrs per month.
I love international flying. In the past few months we've taken the G550 to Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Central Africa and South America."
General Mgr/ Pilot Robert Oliver believes that quality of life is the most compelling job benefit for crews.
TWC Aviation is certified to IS-BAO Stage 2 standards as well as the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF), and the company is looking at upgrading to IS-BAO Stage 3 down the road. "We try to make our company ops manual as robust as we can," says Arcemont.
"It gets into philosophy, culture and everything that makes TWC Aviation different." TWC participates in several annual flight department audits including Wyvern Consulting and Aviation Research Group/US (ARG/US).
Training and best practices
TWC pilots maintain currency on up to 2 aircraft types and attend recurrent training twice annually. Additional training includes Scott international procedures and recurrent emergency ditch procedures.
"We place a high value on training programs and try to continually upgrade our staff without going over the top in terms of peripheral duties," says GM Bob Oliver who joined TWC 8 years ago after a stint with DreamWorks Studios flight department. Guest speakers are brought in regularly and safety/ security training is a refined process.
Dir Training Alex Unterberger places high value on training with safety of ops always first priority.
Dir Aviation Safety & Security Kristopher Cannon, formerly a defensive tactics instructor with the Beverly Hills Police Dept and currently an instructor of aviation security at the University of Southern California, strives to go well beyond TSA requirements.
"We teach our pilots how to verify IDs and recognize fake IDs and we've developed rigorous flightdeck breach training programs," he says. "We teach pilots how to defend the flightdeck and take back control of the aircraft. We also teach hotel takeover and security considerations, identity theft, what to do if your car is bumped or stopped overseas and where to stay in a hotel to reduce potential bomb risks."
All TWC foreign destination trip requests are subjected to a destination risk assessment scoring matrix. "If the risk score is too high we won't pursue the trip," adds Cannon. "We work to mitigate security risks at every location we go to. We'll arrange secure transport for crew and passengers, seal aircraft at destinations at pilot or company discretion and arrange guards at less secure airfields."
Focusing on best practices Dir Training Alex Unterberger maintains 2 unique programs—supplemental ops review training (SORT) and pilot-in-command charm school (PICCS). If there is an opportunity for a flightcrew to learn from a specific experience, they're brought in for SORT.
"We counsel and educate crews to train like they fly and fly like they train," says Unterberger. "Being proactive in education and training is a benefit for everyone and standardizes the performance of our flightcrews." Unterberger explains that PICCS is a way of teaching pilot etiquette, customer service and cultural sensitivity and how to be a good captain.
"This is a part of what sets our corporate culture apart from the competition. When greeting passengers at the airstair we want the leading edges polished and the flightcrews ready to welcome passengers aboard."