Direct Entry Captain Program Provides Relief for Pilots Facing Long Upgrade Times at Other Regionals

Kyle-Barret
Direct Entry Captain Kyle Barret

At some regional airlines, it can take as long as 7 years to upgrade to Captain, even for pilots who are Captain-qualified. And until a regional pilot is a Captain, they can’t start accumulating Pilot in Command, or PIC time.

The Pilot in Command, or PIC, is the crew member ultimately held responsible for the safety of a flight.  The number of hours that pilots act in the role of Pilot in Command is called PIC time.  The more PIC time that a pilot has, the better their chances of being offered a position with a major carrier.

First Officers facing long upgrade times often find themselves in professional limbo, unable to accumulate the Pilot in Command, time that they need to move on, but understandably hesitant to start over with another regional, as it would require walking away from years of accrued seniority.

Fortunately, GoJet’s Direct Entry Captain program provides a welcome solution for pilots caught between a rock and a hard place.  This program allows pilots who are Captain-qualified to join GoJet as a Captain, rather than a First Officer, and immediately start earning PIC time.  The program, which is the only of its kind in the country, provides relief for pilots who have been flying as First Officers for years with no upgrade in sight.

One such pilot is GoJet Direct Entry Captain Brad Meyer.  He flew as a First Officer at another airline for 8 years, before taking a three year hiatus from the industry.  He had no intention of returning to aviation, knowing that he’d have to start over again as a First Officer.  However, GoJet’s Direct Entry Captain program changed his mind.  “After flying as a First Officer for 8 years, I didn’t want to start over at that level,” he said.  “This program allowed me to start flying again, but this time as a Captain.”

Jason-Duvernay
Direct Entry Captain Jason Duvernay

Direct Entry Captain Kyle Barrett agrees, remarking, “The Direct Entry Captain program has been perfect for my career.” Kyle, a former regional First Officer, left the regional world several years ago for corporate flying.  However, he decided to return to regional flying to gain additional 121 experience that would make him more marketable to a major carrier.  Given the depth of his experience, the Direct Entry Captain program made it possible for him to immediately start flying as a Captain, rather than starting over again as a First Officer.

One misconception about the program is that Direct Entry Captains “cut in line” ahead of First Officers already on property, thus increasing the time that it takes for those First Officers to upgrade.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Upgrade time is tied to seniority, and seniority is tied to a pilot’s start date.  A First Officer already on property will be higher on the seniority list than a new hire Direct Entry Captain.  When a First Officer upgrades, they immediately bypass all Captains junior to them on the seniority list, while a Direct Entry Captain will sit reserve if there are no lines available.

However, Direct Entry Captains get plenty of flying time.  Lines open up with attrition, and an average of 15-25 pilots leave GoJet each month to move on to major airlines and legacy carriers. Also, Direct Entry Captains can fly in both seats, which means that a Direct Entry Captain can cover a trip as a First Officer, while still getting paid as a Captain.

In addition to the benefits associated with accumulating PIC time, GoJet offers a host of other advantages that are very attractive to pilots. Direct Entry Captain Robert Brown likes GoJet’s competitive five year contract, while Direct Entry Captain Zach Moore likes the extra time at home afforded by long-call reserve.

Plus, GoJet’s small pilot group means that management takes a personal interest in each pilot’s success.  “I couldn’t believe it when the Director of Flight Ops and the Chief Pilot introduced themselves to my training class and shook everyone’s hand,” Robert Brown recalled.

Randy-Bratcher_Brad-Sargent_cockpit
New hire pilots can expect a personal welcome from Director of Flight Operations Randy Bratcher (left), and Chief Pilot Brad Sargent (right).

Direct Entry Captain Jason Duverny, who left corporate flying to be able to fly a more predictable schedule, has also been impressed with what he’s seen from GoJet’s management, and describes the training program as “awesome.”

PayTotal year one compensation for a Direct Entry Captain starts at just over $91,000 a year. Pilots with a current CL-65 or ERJ-170 type rating can earn in excess in $94,000 in total compensation during their first year.  And pilots who take advantage of GoJet’s longevity carryover program can earn even more.

To learn more about GoJet’s Direct Entry Captain program, or to apply online, please click here.

Pilot Recruiter James Douvier Explains What it Takes to be a GoJet Pilot

When Pilot Recruiter Captain James Douvier meets with pilot applicants, he’s looking for more than just technical know-how.  He’s looking for pilots with positive personalities who are going to come to GoJet and make a difference.

james-douvier
Pilot Recruiter Captain James Douvier

Being a great aviator is certainly a requirement to become a GoJet pilot, but there’s more to it than that.  Crews spend a lot of time together, so having an outgoing and positive attitude is important.  James says that during the interview process, he asks himself, “Is this someone that I would want to fly a four-day trip with?”

When James interviews pilots, he’s also looking at what they’ve accomplished outside of the cockpit.  “We’re looking for pilots who are going to do more than just fly their shift, make their money, and go home,” James explains.  “We want to hire people who are going to be involved and engaged in the airline.  If you’ve been involved in your school, community, or at your previous airline, it’s a pretty good indication that you’re going to make a positive impact at GoJet.”

However, the interview process is also about pilot candidates making sure that GoJet is the right fit for them.  That’s why James sets aside a portion of each interview to answer any questions that applicants may have.  One of the most common things that pilot applicants want to know is what their life will be like when they become a GoJet pilot.

In addition to emphasizing the quality of life benefits that GoJet offers, including high pay, minimal reserve time, and fast Captain upgrades, James also tells candidates about GoJet’s unique, family-like culture.  For example, unlike “slam-clickers,” or pilots who stay in their hotel rooms after they finish a day of flying, GoJet crews frequently go out to dinner together or rent a car and sightsee during overnight trips.  “I have friends at other airlines, and the level of camaraderie that you see at GoJet is just different,” he remarks.  “All of our crews are interactive teams who just genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”

When asked if he had any advice for new GoJet pilots, James encouraged them to take advantage of every opportunity to get involved with the company, as it will benefit their careers down the road.  “Many of our pilots aspire to fly for mainline carriers one day, and all airlines, including mainlines, want to hire pilots who have made the effort to progress professionally as much as they can,” he stressed.  “Do as much as you can while you have the opportunity, and it will pay off for you later.”

Professional development opportunities that James suggests include:

  • Becoming a Check Airman
  • Getting involved in the union
  • Offering to be a committee chair, such as for hotels
  • Helping out with recruiting
  • Taking advantage of the Pilot Mentor Program – in addition to earning $5,000 for every pilot you mentor, you’re paying it forward by passing on your wisdom and experience to new pilots

Being a pilot recruiter means that James doesn’t get to fly the line as much as he’d like, but he loves what he does.  “I get to help make people’s dreams come true. Seeing someone’s face light up when they are offered a job as a GoJet First Officer, then seeing that person become a Captain, and then watching them move on to mainline, that’s just really special.”

There’s never been a better time to become a GoJet pilot.  Click here to get started.