Director of Maintenance Likens Camaraderie at GoJet to the Marine Corps

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Marine Corps Veteran and GoJet Director of Maintenance, Jeff Bast

When leaving the military, it’s common for Veterans to look for careers in the civilian world that will allow them to utilize the training they received in the armed forces.  For example, military pilots and aircraft mechanics often put their skills to work in the airline industry when their active duty responsibilities are complete.

Marine Corps Veteran and GoJet Director of Maintenance did just that.  Prior to his airline career, Jeff spent five years as an Avionics Technician in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he ensured that Maine Corps aircraft, including AV-8B Harrier jets, were mission capable.

When Jeff left active duty, he found that his avionics skills were very marketable in the civilian world.  He was recruited by a St. Louis-based regional airline, where he went on to spend over 15 years holding progressively responsible Tech Ops positions before joining GoJet as its new Director of Maintenance in early 2017.

With the exception of combat situations, Jeff says that the major difference between military and commercial aviation is the activity level of the aircraft that technicians work on.  “If you’re an Avionics Technician stationed at a military base, you’re primarily going to work on a fleet that’s grounded, but still needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice,” he said.  “But an airline is a business, and every decision you make is hyper-focused on keeping aircraft in the air.”

Despite having an office at GoJet’s corporate headquarters, Jeff always looks for opportunities to get his hands dirty at the maintenance hangar.  “Who likes sitting in an office all day?” he laughed. “Plus, getting in the trenches gives me the opportunity to interact with our front line mechanics.”

Even though his active duty days are behind him, Jeff says that the camaraderie he has with his co-workers at GoJet reminds him of the relationships he had with his fellow soldiers in the Marines.

“I found a good group of people in the military,” Jeff recalls, “and it was the same when I joined GoJet. I love working with the people in this company, just like I loved working with the people in my squadron.”

GoJet Airlines is a proud supporter of our men and women in uniform.  We value military leadership, and are proud that many Veterans like Jeff have chosen GoJet for their civilian careers.

Hero Employee Saves Co-Worker’s Life – Twice

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Hero Stores Clerk, Ann Jones

Detroit Maintenance Manager Rio Publico and Detroit Lead Stores Clerk Ann Jones have worked together since 2011, and have always had a good rapport, both in and out of the office.  Last fall, the two were attending a group training session at GoJet’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, when the unthinkable happened.  While on a break, Ann and Rio were walking to a local grocery store, when Rio went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.

“I don’t remember this,” Rio says, “but Ann told me that I stopped, told her to hold on, and then I collapsed.” Ann called 911, and the dispatcher told Ann that she would have to restart Rio’s heart while paramedics were en route.  “As soon as he said that, I started freaking out,” Ann remembers.  “Because it hadn’t dawned on me until that point that there was a possibility that he could die.  I’d received CPR training in the past, but had never had to use it.”

The dispatcher walked Ann through what to do, and Rio took a deep breath just before paramedics arrived. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he regained consciousness over an hour later.  When he woke up, Ann was the first person that he asked for.

While Rio was in the hospital, Ann personally called Rio’s wife, Donna, to let her know what had happened.  “I know how unnerving it is to receive an unexpected phone call from a hospital,” Ann said.  “I wanted her to hear the news from a friendly voice.” Ann looked after Rio during his recovery, and still keeps an eye on his health.  “I made sure that he only ate healthy foods, and I still do to this day.  Donna only sends him healthy food for lunch, and I make sure that he eats it all.”

Both Rio and Donna consider Ann to be his guardian angel.  Incredibly, Rio’s heart attack in St. Louis was not the first time that Ann has saved his life.  A few years ago, Ann had to call 911 when Rio had a stroke at work.  “We were laughing and talking with our boss in the room,” Ann recalls, “when suddenly, Rio told me to call 911. At first, I thought that he was joking. Then he yelled at me to call, because he couldn’t feel his arm.”

“I started stuttering, my side started tingling, and my speech was slurring,” Rio adds.  “If Ann hadn’t been there both times, I may have sustained permanent, physical damage, or not even be alive today. She has been a real saving grace.”

Ann jokes that she is not ready for Rio to experience another medical emergency any time soon. “Both of these situations were very scary – I could use a break,” she laughs.

GoJet Employee Wins Prestigious Aviation Maintenance Award

Congratulations to Fleet Support Coordinator Ben Dunbar, who has been named to the AMT Next Gen 40 Under 40 List!  Aircraft Maintenance Technology Magazine launched this recognition program to shine a light on the benefits of a career in aircraft maintenance and to inspire the next generation of aviation professionals.

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This annual contest recognizes aircraft maintenance professionals who have challenged themselves professionally by taking advantage of training opportunities that have allowed them to continue learning and progress in their careers.  In addition, the individuals selected have made contributions to the industry as a whole, and make the industry safer by maintaining aircraft to the highest possible standards.

GoJet Director of Maintenance, Aaron Armstrong, isn’t surprised that Ben was selected for this prestigious award.  “Ben brings a phenomenal skill set to our team, and this recognition is well-deserved,” he remarked.  “Ben’s constant desire to learn more has an enormous influence on those around him.”

At GoJet, safety is our top priority.  Ben, along with every other GoJet employee, has dedicated his career to the safety of our aircraft and passengers, and he embodies that commitment each and every day.

Click here to read the write up on Ben and his accomplishments in the November/December 2016 issue of Aircraft Maintenance Technology.

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Ready to join the GoJet maintenance team?  Click here. 

Maintenance Control: The Unseen Face of Tech Ops

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Maintenance Controller Steven Perez

The majority of our passengers have most likely never heard the term “Maintenance Control.”  However, the safety and timeliness of our flights depends on this important group of GoJet employees.  This department is critical to keeping our airplanes safe, our flights on schedule, and our passengers happy.

Maintenance Controllers are licensed A & P mechanics who troubleshoot aircraft mechanical issues for our pilots and mechanics at out stations.  If a GoJet pilot encounters a mechanical issue with an aircraft anywhere in the country, their first call is to Maintenance Control. Often, Maintenance Control can help the pilot correct the issue over the phone, which allows our out-station mechanics to focus on more involved repairs.  However, if it’s a more complicated problem, Maintenance Control will diagnose the likely source of the problem and recommended a course of action to local mechanics.

Our line and hangar mechanics are always outside fixing aircraft, regardless of weather conditions.  Whether it’s snow in New York or a sizzling summer in Raleigh, our line and hangar mechanics have to be outside to get the job done.  However, our Maintenance Controllers work inside Systems Operations Control (or the SOC) at our corporate headquarters in St. Louis.  That’s because Maintenance Control interfaces with many different departments, including Crew Scheduling and Dispatch, which are located in the SOC.  For example, if a flight is delayed due to a maintenance issue, Dispatch and Crew Scheduling rely on Maintenance Control to tell them to estimated fix time so that the flight can be re-scheduled and re-crewed, if necessary. Or if an aircraft can’t be fixed in time to operate a scheduled flight, Dispatch relies on Maintenance Control to recover the flight with a different aircraft.

Maintenance Controllers have a lot on their plate, to say the least.  In addition to troubleshooting problems on aircraft that are often hundreds of miles away from them and developing recovery options for out of service aircraft, they are also responsible for scheduling short-term preventative maintenance, as well as for monitoring repeat repairs.  And while a line or hangar mechanic can only work on one aircraft at a time, Maintenance Controllers are tackling dozens of issues at once.

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Maintenance Controller George Thomas

“When I was a line mechanic, I just had one plane in front of me, and I was only working on one task at a time,” explains Maintenance Controller George Thomas.  “Now, I’m simultaneously working on on multiple planes, crews, and issues, which always keeps me busy.”  Maintenance Controller Steven Perez agrees.  “You’ll be going in different directions all day, so you need to make sure that you keep a cool head.”

Both George and Steve agree that the benefits of working in Maintenance Control outweigh the pressures of the job.  In addition to working inside out of the elements, a move to Maintenance Control also comes with a considerable pay increase.  And both George and Steve enjoy the people that they work with and take a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that the work that they do is so important.

“I work with great people, and there’s a fraternal atmosphere among all of us,” George remarked.  “And when you know that you’re helping 30 to 50 crews and hundreds of passengers each day, it’s a very rewarding feeling.”

Steve feels the same way.  “I work in a really good environment with like-minded professionals,” Steve says. “We all take a lot of pride in keeping our planes in the air.”

Given the enormous responsibilities that Maintenance Controllers have, Maintenance Control isn’t the place for someone right out of A & P school. Maintenance Controllers have to have a good systematic understanding of our CRJ700/900 aircraft, as well as the ability and confidence to make split second decisions that can effect the entire fleet.  Plus, good communications skills are key, as Maintenance Controllers must be able to communicate effectively across departments.

“No department has a greater impact on Tech Ops overall performance than Maintenance Control,” said Aaron Armstrong, GoJet’s Director of Maintenance.  “A single Maintenance Controller is going to make more independent decisions in a day than a line mechanic makes in month.”

“Maintenance Control isn’t for everyone,” adds Rob Truax, GoJet’s VP of Tech Ops. “We set the bar for Maintenance Controllers incredibly high – they represent some of our best and brightest Maintenance talent.”

GoJet is currently offering a $12,000 retention bonus to current and new hire Maintenance Controllers.  If you’re a licensed and experienced A & P mechanic and want to make a big impact on the operation, Maintenance Control might be a perfect fit for you.  Click here to learn more and apply online.

Employee Appreciation Week Recap

Employee Appreciation Week is one of our favorite weeks of the year!  This week-long event, packed with food, games, and prizes, is our way of saying thank you to our employees for all of their hard work  This year’s festivities wrapped up last Friday, and everyone is still talking about all of the fun they had.

One of the best things about Employee Appreciation Week is the food!  In Chicago, Base Manager Tracy Ryan kept the crew room stocked with candy and other goodies throughout the week.  Her queso dip with chips and salsa was a huge hit!  Tracy also delivered Subway sandwiches planeside to crews with fast turns.

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The Raleigh-Durham base had a similar agenda, offering a smorgasbord of treats each day. All kinds of candy bars were available on Monday, while Tuesday featured “grab and go” breakfasts for the crew members.  Throughout the week, crews also feasted on nachos, cupcakes and pizza.

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At the St. Louis base, Base Manager Nikki Lutz worked hard keeping the crews fed all week, and even held a barbecue right on the ramp!

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In addition to the food and festivities, each crew base gave away a FitBit!

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  Flight Attendant Alyce Atkinson won the FitBit given away at our ORD crew base.

At the St. Louis headquarters on Tuesday, corporate leaders threw a “come as you are” breakfast (which was pajamas for many) for all employees, complete with a caricature booth and balloon artist.  The leadership team manned griddles and hotplates, and served up an impressive spread that included sausage, eggs, pancakes, and even a smoothie bar.  And of course, President Rick Leach and GoJet COO Terry Basham held their annual competition to see whose pancakes were the most popular  (we ran out of both, so we’re called it a tie!).

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Other events throughout the week included the very popular “Take Your Dog To Work Day,” a gourmet cupcake truck, and a friendly game of Family Feud that pitted GoJet employees against employees of our sister carrier, Trans States Airlines.

One of the biggest events of the week was the annual washers tournament.  This year was the tournament’s biggest year yet, with 35 teams participating.  Our Maintenance department has established a washers dynasty over the years, and many teams from other departments were eager to de-throne them. However, Maintenance remained dominant again this year, and we again had a Maintenance vs. Maintenance championship game!

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Maintenance remained dominant later in the week, winning the annual tug-of-war showdown between the Maintenance hangar and corporate office employees.

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The Maintenance Hangar defeats the corporate office employees in tug-of-war….again!

On Friday, employees enjoyed a barbecue,

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a mini-classic car show,

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and an afternoon of “knockerball.”

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One thing’s for certain – we’re already looking forward to next year!

Employee Spotlight: Meet Maintenance Fleet Manager Quinn Sasser

At GoJet, our top priority is providing a safe and quality travel experience.  Central to that mission is Maintenance Fleet Manager, Timothy “Quinn” Sasser.  Quinn, who has held his position since 2009, is responsible for ensuring that any modifications made to our aircraft meet our high safety and quality standards.  “Any modification to our aircraft, whether a preventative enhancement, or a feature detail, goes through my desk,” explains Quinn.

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GoJet Airlines Maintenance Engineering Fleet Manager Timothy “Quinn” Sasser

Some of Quinn’s most recent modification projects include the installation of wi-fi on our fleet of CRJ700/900 aircraft, as well as the converting the CRJ700s in our Delta fleet from 65 seats to 69 seats.  “The key to adding seats is not compromising passenger comfort,” he remarked.  “We move the lavatory farther back in the aircraft, so that the extra seats don’t equate to a loss of legroom.”

Quinn’s aviation career started in 1994, when Trans States Airlines hired him as a Technical Analyst right after he finished college at Western Kentucky University.  He recalls, “When I was a Tech Analyst, I was looking for, and finding problems and issues. Now I’m actually fixing problems.”

Quinn’s position requires him to travel all over North America, but his favorite place to travel for work is Montreal, Quebec.  “I love going to the downtown area. While you’re there, you can see both the really old buildings, and the new skyscrapers. It’s a really blossoming city that still has a lot of history.” Quinn says that his favorite part of Montreal are the restaurants. “I feel like I’ve been there enough now that I know where the most unique ones are.”

When he’s not traveling for work or working to maintain GoJet’s fleet of aircraft, he and his wife, Holly, stay busy with their two teenagers who are in high school. “Between keeping up with their school sports, and playing tennis and running myself, there are a lot of sports in my life when I’m not on the clock.” Apart from sports, Quinn is also a music fan and frequently attends bluegrass festivals.

Quinn was born in Australia, where his parents were working at the time. His family then moved to Alabama, where he grew up. After college in Kentucky and Florida, he settled down in St. Louis, after meeting his wife, a St. Louis native.  “I like St. Louis,” he says, “I think that we’ll be staying here for many more years to come.”

Quinn is one of the many unique and talented individuals that make up our GoJet family. To learn more about how you can join our team of aviation professionals, please click here.