Q&A: Direct Entry Captain Robert Scheu Shares His CommutAir Experience

CommutAir Captain Bob Scheu
Captain Robert Scheu with First Officer Jason Dodson. Both pilots are enrolled in the Career Path Program.

 

CAPTAIN ROBERT SCHEU came to CommutAir (C5) last year as a direct-entry-captain (DEC). He’s currently enrolled in United’s Career Path Program with a goal of transitioning to United.

In the short time he’s been part of the C5 Family, he’s enjoyed himself so much that he has attended several events with the Recruiting Team to tell others about career opportunities at CommutAir. He recently shared his experience with interviewers.

 

What made you consider the C5 Family?

I decided to leave another regional because they were frequently junior assigning and began base closures. I did a fair amount of research on all the regionals and considered base locations, upgrade times, and reserve times. C5 was right for me, and I started October 4 (2018).

Applying to any job is cumbersome and can be tedious, can you walk us through the application and onboarding process? How did it go?

I applied online and heard back from Recruiting immediately. The recruiters were friendly and engaging, explained the interview process and answered all my questions. The recruitment team was easy to talk with, and had a great story to tell about CommutAir with new routes, overnights, and increasing fleet. I enjoyed my visit to HQ. Captain Houser gave me a personal tour and introduced to our management team, Maintenance Control (MX), Dispatch and Scheduling. He was an incredible host and really made me feel like I was already part of the team.

In hindsight, as a DEC, I should have spent a day with MX, Dispatch, and Scheduling to understand SOC better since I had no right seat time at C5. However, I reached out to the SOC Director and was approved to come back and spend some time with the team to see the operation from their perspective and learn how I can better partner with our operational team.

Describe the training process at CommutAir? How did it compare to other programs you have been through during your career?

The training was great — Top notch ground and SIM instructors with a very practical approach. The instructors were available to us after class and would join us for study groups outside of class. Every instructor took a personal interest in us and was very supportive.

CommutAir is known for fostering a family-like culture, so how is life on the line?

We are a small company and I usually know some or all of the crew when taking a plane. There are lots of hugs and high-fives between crews as we swap crews and seeing a smiling familiar face is always nice.

The crews are great and having a line has been a big jump in QOL (quality of life) from reserve. I typically have 16-18 days off a month and have been able to get most of my preferences for my schedule each month. Our overnights and hotels are above average, and some of the overnights have enough time for us to go out and enjoy the town and local sights.

How many hours have you accumulated since you have joined?

I have about 550 total hours here at C5 since I started flying in January. I average about 65 to 70 hours a month and enjoy a mix of 3- and 4-day trips.

Moving from one regional airline to another is a major decision in one’s career, how was the transition?

Leaving the seniority and schedule I had at my last regional was a difficult decision. However, C5 has quick upgrade times, and a growing fleet with more flying added each month. The pilot group is expanding, and the CPP seems to keep the seniority line moving.

Can you describe the CPP process, and how is it progressing for you?

Some have said the CPP can be a bit of a moving target as United evolves the program with its regional partners. For me, I took the Hogan after IOE and received an invitation to interview about two weeks later. I went to Denver in April and received the conditional letter about two weeks later. I need about 450 more PIC time to qualify for a class date. If I keep flying at my current pace, I should hit 1,000 PIC hours after about 12 months of line flying at C5!

Any advice for others in your shoes?

I would encourage anyone looking at the regionals to consider the DEC program at C5. There is a lot of captain flying available; the CPP program is incredible. Where else can you fly for 12 months to qualify for a class at United?

For a DEC, I would do a few extra observation flights to have more opportunity to understand the logcan and get more familiarized with Newark and Dulles operations. I also suggest spending a few hours in SOC to better understand how to partner with MX and Dispatch.

How would you compare CommutAir vs. the other airlines you have flown for?

It is difficult to compare CommutAir to other carriers. Others had a large infrastructure system and mature jet program, but reserve times and upgrades were measured in years. Another had a fantastic route map and great overnights, but the junior assignments and loss of pilots was crippling. CommutAIr is a small but growing regional and I would highly recommend to any DEC.

I think we have a great recruitment department, training is top notch, and maintenance is the best I’ve seen. This is a great place for anyone taking the next step in their career.


Learn more about becoming a direct entry captain. 

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