DAYTON, Ohio – The Redline Air Show team – a dynamic, two-ship formation aerobatic performance team – will be flying formation together at the 2017 Vectren Dayton Air Show Presented by Kroger on June 24th and 25th at the Dayton International Airport. One of Redline’s pilot’s flies for Dayton’s hometown airline, PSA Airlines. Ken Rieder, half of the Redline Airshows duo, operates CRJ aircraft for PSA.
“At PSA Airlines, I get to work and fly with such a professional group of people while flying all over the Eastern half of the country,” said Rieder. “PSA Airlines has given me the opportunity to train and fly with a well-established and very well-organized training facility in some of the best equipment available. And the career opportunities are endless with guaranteed flow through to our parent company, American Airlines.”
Rieder began his career with PSA in 2004 to 2006, and returned this year due to the growth, stability and career opportunities the airline provides. He has been flying for 30 years and started flying aerobatics soon after getting his license. Both Rieder and his Redline partner, Jon Thocker, were recruited onto a large aerobatic team where they learned the essentials of airshow flying. Five years ago, Redline Airshows started flying local shows and the duo found its niche in the formation aerobatic two-ship performers, giving them the opportunity to fly more aggressive aerobatics. The team performs in North America, Central America, in the Caribbean.
“Aviation offers an endless horizon for those who participate and dare to dream,” said Rieder. “I hope to inspire the next generation to take the next step toward the sky and find what I have found to be the most rewarding career.”
Title: Director – Employee Benefits Shared Services Organization
What is the SSO and what is their primary role connected to PSA? Shared Services Organizations (SSO) generally provide “back-office” functions; sometimes including call centers, accounts payable, finance, accounts receivable, purchasing, data analytics, internal consulting, benefits administration, payroll and IT support just to name a few. It really depends on the organization and what role they want the shared services to accomplish. Shared Services Organizations are more common among large corporate organizations that have wholly owned subsidiary companies, or separate divisions within their organization. For example, Hershey’s Chocolate, Pearson Brinkerhoff (one of the world’s largest engineering firms), and Ahold Company (one of the world’s largest grocery store chain owners) to name a few, utilize shared services for a variety of functions. I am familiar with these companies because all of them have their shared services located in the Central PA area and I routinely talk with folks within their shared services groups. Our role for PSA is primarily benefits administration, accounts payable/receivable/treasury, finance, payroll processing, general and technical purchasing and contracts.
How long have you been connected with PSA? I have been with the SSO and working with PSA since July 31, 2006 when I started.
How long have you been in the airline industry? Where did you work before this position? I have been in the airline industry for about 11 years. Prior to that, I was the HR Manager for a lumber manufacturer in Central Pennsylvania. I worked there through college and law school as a general laborer before becoming their HR person. I also spent two years working in state government for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and the Delaware Department of Justice.
Give us a brief overview of what you do: I oversee all benefit administration at the Shared Services Organization for both PSA and Piedmont including the health and welfare plans, retirement plans and our workers’ compensation program. I routinely assist employees with whatever benefit questions/issues they may have and take great pride in making sure all our employee’s get a phone call returned within 24 hours of reaching out to us.
What is one of the biggest challenges of your job? Communication is the biggest challenge. In a traditional employment setting, your employees are centrally located and communicating is as easy as walking around and talking to people. In our industry, talking with people becomes challenging because our employees are located all over the country, in different times zones, sometimes working from sun-up to sun-down.
Does the SSO have other companies it does “back office” support for other than PSA and Piedmont? We are specific to PSA and Piedmont only, we currently do not handle any of Envoy’s functions.
What advice would you give to PSA employees having difficulty understanding their benefits coverage or having trouble with their billing? Call or reach out to us – we are here to help. I take a lot of pride in making sure our employees get a return call within 24 hours and in getting any issue resolved as quickly as possible.
What is the most common question you receive from employees? The most common question we get is assisting employees replace their insurance cards.
Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? My favorite travel destination was San Francisco/LA. My wife and I took an impromptu vacation to SFO where we stayed with a friend for a few days and checked out the city. We then rented a Ford Mustang and drove down Pacific Coast Highway and stayed the night at Lucia Lodge, a little 11-room hotel located just outside of Big Sur. The rooms literally overlook the Pacific Ocean and it has a great restaurant and really good wine selection. The next day, we drove into L.A. and saw all of the “must see locations” and dined in Long Beach. Best unplanned vacation I have ever had!
What are some of your hobbies? I love to play guitar, cook, brew beer and hunt. The best meal I have made (according to my wife) was handmade lobster ravioli. My kids love it when I make homemade pizza from scratch and I recently learned how to bake my mother’s Christmas cookies.
What do you love about working for the SSO? I get to work with the two best regional airlines in the industry, PSA and Piedmont.
Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: I track all of my phone calls and literally try to answer my phone on the first ring (I have actually had employees tell me that I have picked up the phone before they even heard it ring on their end). In 2016, I took 912 phone calls from our employees and another 616 calls from our benefit vendors. The only phone calls I don’t track are calls from my wife.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job? I can honestly say, it has been talking to/meeting all the people I have met and building all the relationships with those people. I have been extremely fortunate in that I literally get to travel throughout our entire US network, whether it’s for open enrollment meetings or work comp training. Seeing my fellow co-workers is always my favorite part. Whenever I’m on an aircraft, I always introduce myself to the crew and take time to chat with them about whatever is on their mind.
Tell us something no one knows about you: I secretly want to work on the ramp – I love that type of physical labor and operating/being around large machinery. Being on the ramp very much reminds me of my days at the saw mill – during mornings in the fall, when the sun is coming up and the air is super crisp, the smell of jet fuel takes me back to when I drove a diesel forklift and loaded trucks with stacks of lumber.
How long have you been involved with PSA’s Cadet Program? I was very fortunate to have the pleasure of starting the PSA Pilot Cadet Program back in October 2015. The Program was just in its initial phases of being developed and I was the representative on the Pilot’s side of the table in order to make sure that the necessary steps were taken to ensure the Programs success! It was great to see the “behind the scenes” before the program officially launched to the public on January 15, 2016!
What are the best features of this program?
I believe the best feature of the program is the mentorship opportunities. Sure, money is a great part of it, it is certainly an attention grabber; but the networking, career advice, bond, friendship, and continued professional growth that a mentee receives from their mentor is something that is unsurpassed.
You get the opportunity as a young aviator to pick the brain of someone who is on that “next step”. You have an INCREDIBLE resource that is right there so you can reach out to and ask any question imaginable. The greatest part of the mentorship opportunities with the program is that it is something that’s going to last forever. Your mentor is going to be somebody who years down the road is still answering questions for you about the company, the aircraft, or just someone to bounce ideas off when you become a future mentor. You can’t put a price on friendship, and you certainly cannot put a price on someone with the keys to success in your future career.
What have you done, personally to ensure your Cadets are making the most of their involvement with the Cadet Program?
Staying involved with their continued success. I believe that the mentor needs to play a crucial role in the program so that there is a certain bond between mentee and mentor. Being able to answer questions or find answers to questions is one of the biggest things as well. No one wants a wrong answer, and as a mentor, it’s my responsibility to provide the necessary answers for my students.
I’ve also been very fortunate to be able to provide the students with the proper materials for continued success at PSA.
Any additional thoughts on the cadet program?
The PSA Cadet Program is so much more than just a “flow” for Certified Flight Instructor’s to PSA. It is a career growth and advancement program. Every person involved with this program from October 2015 until the present day has had the unique vision of turning great students into Professional Aviators. The greatest part about this program is that regardless of what position you hold in the program, you will never stop becoming a more Professional Aviator.
The beauty of being an airline pilot, but more so a professional airline pilot is that you constantly strive toward continued learning. As a mentor, I learn something new every time I interact with my students. As a pilot, I learn something new every day to take back to my students as an educational lesson for them. This program is ultimately, what you make of it, but I can guarantee that if you are willing to use the resources that you have available to you, you will continue to grow and earn the title of American Airlines Captain.
PSA Airlines Cadet
Cadet Instructor-Cochise College
Camber Minor was one of the very first cadets to join our program. She graduated from Cochise College, where she is now a Cadet Instructor.
Why did you decide to join PSA’s Cadet Program?
I wasn’t airline shopping when I heard about PSA. I thought it was too early in my career to be thinking about airline options. It sounds cliche, but I didn’t find PSA, PSA found me. I decided to join PSA over other pipeline programs out there, because the people at PSA were so engaging and actually cared about my success.
In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit of having a Mentor?
The biggest benefit of having a mentor at PSA is being able to ask him questions and get real world answers. Blake is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about being an airline pilot at PSA, and genuinely wants us to be on the PSA team. Blake goes out of his way for Cochise College. When we flew to Charlotte for the recruiting event Blake was waiting outside our gate for us when we got off the plane. It’s awesome having a contact who cares so much. I’m sure Blake will be there for us when we transition to the airlines and will help make it a smooth and easy transition.
Any additional thoughts on the cadet program?
The Cadet program has opened so many doors for me already, and I’ve made lifetime friendships. I can’t wait for the flight that Blake is captain and I am first officer!
Title: A&P Mechanic
How long have you worked for PSA? I have been working at PSA for just over one year.
How long have you been in the airline industry? Where did you work before PSA? PSA Airlines is my first airline. Prior to that, I spent two and a half years in general aviation as the sole A&P mechanic of a flight school in St. Petersburg, Florida.
What brought you to PSA? I attended an aircraft maintenance career fair in Clearwater, Florida. PSA was the first booth I approached. I was satisfied with the opportunity and benefits that PSA could give me. I interviewed on the spot. Afterwards, I accepted an offer at PSA Airlines in Charlotte, NC.
Give us a brief overview of what you do: My duty is to ensure our passengers and crew can safely and comfortably travel on our jets. I perform many different tasks. On any given day I can be performing engine runs, taxiing aircraft, checking complex systems, troubleshooting and correcting faults, and inspecting critical to flight components and controls.
What is one of the biggest challenges of your job? Probably the greatest challenge at the moment is trying to teach our new mechanics about our maintenance practices and aircraft systems in a timely, safe, and correct manner. Everyone has a different style and pace of learning, trying to ensure the new technicians comprehend as much information I can provide is crucial. At times, we run into new faults in the aircraft, trying to diagnose the new fault and teach about it immediately can complicate that process.
Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? Favorite place I have traveled to would have to be Seattle in the summer time. The combination of natural surroundings and unique city culture in that region are breath taking.
What are some of your hobbies? In my spare time, I fly. I am currently building towards my commercial pilot rating. I also travel using the company benefits to places I have never been before.
Have you always wanted to become a pilot? Since I was a kid, it was always a dream to fly. I started my pilot training before I was a mechanic. I actually worked at a flight school as a mechanic in exchange for flight time. This reduced my training time and flying expenses greatly. Part of my job at the flight school was to fly the airplanes I worked on. We also had customer aircraft from other airports that I would fly to our shop and then deliver back to the customer after the maintenance had been performed.
What do you love about working for PSA? I enjoy being able to do many different things every single day. No two days at PSA are ever the same. That’s what makes this job so interesting.
Would you recommend PSA and why? PSA is a great place to start gaining experience on a relatively new fleet of airliners. These planes are not too complicated to learn. They set a good base on which to learn and build good maintenance skills, as long as the technician is willing to learn.
Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: Some maintenance calls are less glorious than others, especially anything related to a lavatory.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job? Being able to travel on a plane that I have worked on, stare out of the window and watch the wings split through the clouds is the best reward for any type of maintenance I have done on these airliners.
Tell us something no one knows about you: I can speak three languages: English, German, and French.
Mobility and Cloud Delivery is transforming the airline industry. PSA is bringing mobile technology to our approximately 2,500 pilots, flight attendants and mechanics. PSA recently deployed iPads to pilots for electronic charts and manuals. Technology enhancements don’t stop there. Flight attendants are in the early stages of adopting a cashless cabin with the rollout of Samsung tablets. In addition, a project is underway to migrate maintenance and engineering to a web-based system.
Within 18 month, 85 percent of PSA’s employees will be working from a mobile device or utilize a mobile-enabled platform. These early initiatives are the first step in a multi-year mobility initiative.
Adopting mobile options doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. PSA recently launched a private Twitter for crew members to follow the Operations Control Center (OCC). This tool allows crew members to follow the latest operational news from the OCC’s Dispatch and Crew Scheduling groups from their mobile device while in an airport or boarding a plane.