Eddy Wayman: Hello and welcome to the insight aviation podcast brought to you by Wayman Aviation Academy we’re a flight academy here in South Florida that’s offering visas for international students and full financing for our u.s citizens and residents. Today we have the great honor of welcoming captain Domingo Alfaro who has spent his career at American Airlines chief pilot and now Ii believe flight director uh welcome Captain Alfaro.
Capt Alfaro: Welcome and thank you for inviting me glad to be here
Eddy Wayman: So let’s really kind of just jump into it I know that you recently had this
this move from chief pilot to director of flight is that correct?
Capt Alfaro: yes yeah it just happened uh this past June
Eddy Wayman: So congratulations congratulations so uh being a kind of relatively lay person, I
think we all have a pretty good idea what a chief pilot does, but we’ll dive into that. How is the role for you changing now into director of flight?
Capt Alfaro: Um what is uh quite similar as uh um so i’m the director of flight here Miami uh Miami is the second largest uh pilot base for American Airlines, so right now, roughly we have uh somewhere between fourteen thousand five hundred and five to fifteen thousand pilots. Uh, our largest pilot base is dallas. They uh have thirty five hundred and here in Miami uh myself and we have three uh chief pilots and we’ve been entrusted with the care of 2500 which makes us the second largest uh pilot base in uh in Miami and um
Eddy Wayman: Oh sorry you went through that really quick there’s 14,000 pilots at the miami base?
Capt Alfaro: no 14,000 pilots total yeah we have 2500 in miami
Eddy Wayman: 2500 miami that’s still a lot of pilots
Capt Alfaro: my gosh yes yes and we’re hiring we’re hiring we’re hiring because a lot of us are leaving so that’s a great so uh 2500 pilots here in in miami uh amongst the three chief pilots um
Eddy Wayman: So again how is the flight director role different from chief pilot?
Capt Alfaro: um it’s just a broader view of uh our roles here in miami as uh for the other three chief pilots, is very simple we’re here to take care of our pilots help them take care of their families and we’ll take care of american airlines collectively together and we’ll do it in that order so any obstacles any hindrance to themselves and their uh personal life and we’re allowed into their private life that we can help with will certainly help mitigate with that we have the uh the tools here as a director that your your capacity has to increase you have a broader view of of of the operation and not only the operation just strictly here in miami but any uh touch point that any of our pilots fly to. We fly to 43 international destinations out of here in miami which is uh of all the american airlines bases, the one with the largest international footprint. So any issues abroad, any uh um um operational issues or uh or pilot issues that happens at any of those destinations and there’s there’s my capacities had to uh increase for that.
Eddy Wayman: So how is the the role this the chief power rule shared amongst the three chiefs? Do they have different responsibilities or just there’s always a chief available?
Capt Alfaro: uh we always have a chief available because uh this hub is almost this hub
is a 21 22-hour hub operation. So our uh what we call deep south flights uh um, rio de janeiro, uh buenos aires, santiago, Chile they usually leave somewhere between 11 to almost one o’clock in the morning. At two to three o’clock in the morning, the Europe flights are checking in for 4:00 their flight. So if there’s any issues with that, that will be brought into the uh into the mix to try to mitigate that. And then our first arrivals, the deep south arrivals, the the return flights back are uh arriving around 4 30 uh five o’clock sometimes, depending on the weather. There might even be customs opening, so i have to sit a little bit on the airplane so uh there’s a little bit of a window between one two to four o’clock where uh things are usually calm and then things can happen after that so.
Eddy Wayman: So it’s basically it’s around the clock operation. So 24 hours in a day, it’s kind of divided that way. Like every chief, there’s a chief on duty around the clock?
Capt Alfaro: Yeah so the oh uh chief on duty um all of us are airbus captains all the
current chiefs so um but you know we have an issue with a crew member on the triple seven here in miami we have triple seven 787s and then we have both narrow body airplanes based here the 737 ng and now we have the max the max is uh solely based here in miami
i think they picked the best pilots to fly fly those airplanes so that’s why they’re here in miami i’m a little biased but i think we have the best and then the uh all the uh the three uh uh versions of the airbus we fly the 319 320 and 321 and now we’re receiving the uh 321 neos uh and we’re using those uh using that to go a little further uh south and south america to lima and places like that.
Eddy Wayman: So it well sounds like you’ve got a full deck you’ve got uh just about everything uh flying out of my international i’m actually gonna be on one of those deep south flights you talked about going to sao paulo at the beginning of june it’ll be our first live seminar in like well
in over two years and overseas wow yeah so we’ll be doing one in sao paulo june 5th never been to brazil uh really looking forward to it and of course flying american airlines on the way down there one of those long overnights
Capt Alfaro: well thank you thank you thank you for uh um you know any time that you fly on us you’re helping a lot of a lot of uh families here in south florida so on behalf of all of us thank you for for choosing us.
Eddy Wayman: Well that’s a great place to start so american alliance has such a deep history here in south florida you know going back to uh oh my gosh his name is casey right now i actually helped to write a chapter about him in the gma book but there was a director back in the i think it was the 80s right with the taking over of eastern’s routes and as it really grew american airlines and south america and gosh you know miami has such a strong history american eastern pan am it’s it’s kind of this continuous uh kind of path and so if you ask anybody and aviation in south florida is huge one in four jobs in miami-dade tied to aviation and just about everyone knows an american airlines captain right i think actually i might have heard you say that at one of your presentations everyone knows that american airlines captain.
Capt Alfaro: That’s correct yeah you go to any kind of gathering any kind of uh either family or group uh gathering and just ask does anybody know you know somebody that works for american airlines or somebody who works for american airlines and you’ll always see a couple of uh hands uh raised uh our hub has been in uh we started this hub in 1930 i’m sorry 32 years ago so when we started the hub and it started with 14 flights uh this summer 14 total flights yes and uh this summer between us and regional it’ll uh be close to 400 flights a day.
Eddy Wayman: Oh my gosh that’s excellent that’s excellent and so you remind me something
that i love to do at the beginning and i kind of miss it we’ve got our audience here in the zoom with us and we’ve got some people live on the facebook stream as well so i love to hear in the in the chat please let us know where you’re watching us from if you’re here in miami if you’re in dallas if you’re in peru if you’re in europe let us know where you’re from and of course feel free to put in questions there’s a q a button right here at the bottom of the screen and same for anyone watching on facebook put in some questions because we love to get some questions for captain alfaro towards the end and kind of see what’s on your mind i know for a fact that we have at least one or two american island pilots uh in the chat with us i’m sure they’ve got good questions for the boss right so what i was reaching for over there was uh because my memory uh my memory missed me so years ago we wrote this gma greater miami aviation association history of and there’s a whole chapter dedicated to peter delora who i believe was uh the director that really grew the base down here in south florida you know to the point where it was you know that he played in the american airlines arena until recently right yes yes and uh yeah it’s so ingrained here in south florida now you are from south florida right
Capt Alfaro: Yes so i was uh i was born in cuba and uh like um many of us uh were fortunate and blessed enough to um come here to miami make miami our home um i started i learned how to fly in tamiami at uh and started at a little commuter airline loading bags when i was 17 years old because i wanted to be a pilot uh didn’t know how i was gonna do it uh it’s always been a financial kind of uh uh strain as always you know um back then and you know like to refer back in the 1870s when i was learning to fly um you know you could get like a a 152 for anywhere between eight and uh eleven dollars an hour and a 172 for less than twenty dollars an hour and you and you hear the and you say that now to you know all the students and all those are in aviation they go oh my god that is that man that that’s so cheap back then i go yeah but realize i was loading bags at the miami international airport and i was making 1.97 an hour yeah so to get one hour to get one hour of flying it’s always it’s always been just kind of like that so to get one hour of flying how to work you know whole day and then some so it’s always been it’s always been a struggle uh this profession uh does weed out a lot of people but i can i can i can assure you that if you stick with it you follow the plans that your school has or your structure has developed for you and you stick with it that it will pay off and hard work you got you know nothing’s going to be given to you and there’s no shortcuts in this career and especially make it this level but if you follow you follow the plan that’s been designated by your school or your instructor you will make it and and it’ll be worth it i guarantee you.
Eddy Wayman: You’re absolutely right there’s no shortcuts in aviation and i know for a fact there’s a lot of baggage handlers ramp agents cabin crew that are trying to make that move into the cockpit i had i can think of at least a half a dozen uh that are flying with us and they’re
you know at every little uh school here in south florida you know that are working during the week saving up uh now american airlines has their own american airlines union and i think they just recently started doing loans for flight training themselves and uh it makes a lot of sense right because there is this huge pilot shortage and last time we talked so a few months ago i know you had talked about how they were stepping up the pot hiring from like 300 you know from 700 to a thousand and at last i heard just last week from a thousand to 2 000 hires is that right for this year
Capt Alfaro:Yes yeah so uh this year we’re in uh in a place to uh i think right around
2100 or better we started last year with a goal of uh and and the goal started and i think it was like in september october time frame they wanted to uh start hiring and they go well we’ll probably maybe try to hire 300 they ended up with about 700 and then were at one time we were hiring uh 90 pilots a week wow that’s 360 pilots a month that is in one month that’s the largest number that we have sometimes in years put together and now it’s now and we kept that going all the way through um towards the middle of march and then what was happening was we were creating a bottleneck for training uh because yeah so because we still have you know we still have pilots they’re changing equipment because we’re hiring so many pilots we haven’t a lot of first officers upgrading the captains narrow body captains upgrading to wide-body captains and uh so the the uh and then plus the ones that are staying in the same airplane every year we have our continued qualification training and then now we just put in 360 new into the pipeline every month so what they’ve done is backed it off so now we’re in the safe down which is still a remarkable amount we’re doing 45 a week
Eddy Wayman:Forty five a week it’s still a lot my gosh i can’t imagine your flight training department must have been uh really struggling with that now we we say it every time you know now is the best time i’ve ever seen to become a pilot but now if you’re in the industry you know really the big goal the mountaintop is getting to uh a carry like american airlines right like when when somebody gets to american airlines like that’s it there’s nowhere else to go you’re a lifer now right yes yes what is that process like let’s say you know you’re already experienced maybe you’ve been flying the 135 world or the regionals uh what’s it like you know are you involved in the in the in the interviews is it entirely an hr process at this point?
Capt Alfaro: Um so let me let me start from the end process and work our way back so if you get hired now with american airlines what we’re telling our new hires that in four years from today that you get higher expect to be a narrow body captain okay they’re also telling them that if you get higher now expect to be a wide body captain in 10 years i just sort of uh before then
my generation 25 to 30 years before you can hold the white body captain so that’s how much is moved for as move forward so with that being in place what and i love and i love your intro about be the captain that’s what we’re looking for 96 years of history of american airlines i can uh proudly say that we’ve never hired a first officer you may be a first officer because of seniority and because you just showed up here but the qualities of be a captain the leadership the qualities the professionalism that’s what we’re looking for so because you’re going to be a narrow body captain in four years our priority now is uh to try to find people with pic time because it’s going to happen so quickly because of that our hiring and i’m proud to say it’s not an hr total run interview process in hiring we still have pilots we have line pilots uh men and women that volunteer in their and their days off to go to dallas to fly from here south florida and throughout the country to be part of that interview process to maintain that level uh the high standard of professionalism that we have and we’ve cultivated here is our culture here in american airlines and to maintain that we have a hiring pool that even though we draw a large amount of numbers every month it still keeps me the standard has not come down the level and quality of products that we have uh that we’re receiving and we’ll have uh 22 tomorrow new hires the quality is never it hasn’t gone down at all and i’m very proud to say that so.
Eddy Wayman: All right so i mean at your level you know clearly anyone who’s applying at american airlines has thousands of hours has the experience knows how to fly right so so what are you looking for in a candidate like what what makes who makes the cut to be an american airlines captain first officer?
Capt Alfaro: Um well the uh cut is the uh um there is an online test that that you do and then uh the hr is the life experience the uh um the quality of your flying um you know i try to tell when i meet uh young men and women that are being piloted i go take everything you can from every hour that you fly every every bit of experience that you can learn as much at every every license your private pilot license has uh as much value to you as your first atp or your first 747 gather as much information just just be a sponge and gather as much as you can from from every rating and every license that you take every time you sit next to an instructor because that is building the qualities that we’re looking for so when you’re sitting across from an interviewer another pilot
and an hr person the you know the stories are always scenario based tell us tell us of a time that you were flying and this happened that you know that you’ve had that experience you have the confidence and that that that that experience taught you because every time we fly we learn something um you know i’m proud to say that um i’ve never had the perfect flight but that’s never gonna stop me from trying and that’s all that should always be our goal and we always learn from it so be able to communicate that to in a interview process uh be positive uh eye contact um you know uh know and have the the confidence that every everything that has been taught to you every process that you’ve been uh god that you’ve gone through in this career and this profession that has led you to this moment and you’ll be successful in an interview.
Eddy Wayman: That’s interesting all right so it’s mostly about that life experience that brought you to be sitting in that chair right uh something i hear often from uh from hiring captains also they’re looking for someone they can spend a three or four day trip with right someone that uh that they can rely on they can work with right the the soft skills side because clearly your
technical skills are there if you meet the requirements to be sitting in the chair um that’s so interesting and that’s come up several times now uh you hear about a lot of these kids especially the last two years uh with a lot of rambunctious uh passengers and things like that but i have to say i don’t think we have heard anything regarding american airlines it’s been pretty steady through his time and uh and even though there was the massive cutbacks over the last two years of the pandemic came back full force right came back full force when do you think i think last time we spoke you were said you were already in the 90 percentile right as far as where you were in 2019 is are we there are we beyond even where we were in 2019?
Capt Alfaro: Um actually we’re uh this summer will be higher specifically in the miami hub will be actually higher with more flights and more capacity than we did in 2019 um during during the pandemic american airlines was very aggressive um we had more flights uh during the pandemic one out of every three passengers that flew during the time frame flew in american airlines airplane uh we’ve increased gating here we got more gates here in miami uh we got uh more flights well this summer we’ll have more flights than we did uh in the summer of 2019 to more destinations.
Eddy Wayman: Excellent now you gave me an interesting little fact we scheduled this because you said that after may good luck right because you’re so busy between may and
september right that’s the bulk of it explain to me kind of like those ebbs and flows of the airline?
Capt Alfaro: Okay so and most of the airlines are the same so between memorial day and labor days 107 days and those 107 days typically and uh we always try to be at the higher end most airlines will make somewhere between 70 and 80 of their profits wow notice i didn’t say revenue i said profits okay that’s a big difference and the other 20 the other 20 uh percent and change is uh during you know the holiday and then specifically here in miami where other um after the summer draw down and a lot and a lot uh other parts of the country and other hubs what happens in miami is we draw down after labor day but it doesn’t last it only lasts for a month a month and a half because guess what happens in the middle of october and november cruise ships tourism right everybody wants to snowbirds everybody wants to come down so as other bases and other areas are drawing down from the summer schedule we got a short reprieve and then we’re right back up that’s the same level as uh the summer but very close to
it and then that last that carries us through um uh christmas and then depending where when easter falls it lasts about then and you know how i mean the best place to be in the world
january february right here is down here in south florida best time to fly
is january february and march uh because the weather you know they’re smoother and it’s cooler and everything’s a lot better so that’s when most of the people are our passengers are trying to come down here and that’s when we’re our flying is still at an elevated level and then it drops down and then again we start rocking and rolling again on memorial day
Eddy Wayman: so it doesn’t really stop did you have any uh any little spike for the f1 last week where we had so many people in town the executive reports were jammed opa locka airport was packed full of jets.
Capt Alfaro: Uh we had uh the impact that we had was uh um we’ve been uh all spraying we’ve been breaking records so the previous records for uh uh passenger uh um employment and uh the planning here in miami was the super bowl the la the super bowl that we had in 2020 we have broken those records multiple times over uh chris it started in christmas and into january february march so we’ve broken that with no events the impact that we had from the f1 was um the numbers were still the same because weekends we saw we still see a lot of folks flying in and are so the business travel is not quite sure it was before but so what we’re seeing is it’s they’re starting to get out combining a little vacation trip with it okay before you know they will leave fly out monday return satur uh return friday or thursday afternoon now they’re turning a little vacation trip into it for the weekend so our weekend numbers are higher and so that’s been adding to it but we saw so no really big difference to the f1 you know long way to tell you the story but no big significant increase for the f1 it did however didn’t impact our hub here because Eddy Wayman: oh yeah absolutely yeah we couldn’t even do instrument approaches yesterday because all the f1 executive traffic was flying out so uh well now yesterday was monday monday in particular yesterday we were a little bit better but i imagine that’s specific to miami because it’s such an international hub probably all that penta you know in the u.s we feel all this pent-up travel everybody wants to go on a cruise or or come down to sunny south florida but i imagine everybody’s sitting in in chile and peru and brazil wants to come to miami too like it seems like everybody has a house in miami they want to check in on things they want to you know do whatever they do here when they come to the u.s so i bet that’s been a lot of international coming in to the u.s.
Capt Alfaro: Yeah what’s what’s up another thing that makes this hub so unique is that it’s uh basically a a dual purpose from the north people come here to miami to vacation sure from the south they come up here because miami is seen as a business center it is yeah capital of south america yes exactly the capital central south america yeah so so is seen it’s the same city seen in two different lights um and so that gives us a a great opportunity and uh also um a large commitment to try to be to both different groups because you know you you have to you’re catering to somebody in a three bit three piece business suit with a briefcase and then
also somebody with flip-flops because they’re going straight to south beach so you have to be you have to kind of cater to both and i think we do a very well do a very good job with that you know miami does do a very good job with that.
Eddy Wayman: american airlines being kind of like the uh the airline of of miami definitely does a great job of it right so let’s kind of turn the conversation a bit uh more towards you and kind of how you came to be here working for our american airlines and i know that the everyone on the chat and on facebook has questions feel free to keep tapping them in we will get to your questions so you learn how to fly in tamiami right you know we i’ve been having this conversation a lot specifically the last two weeks those first thousand hours are the hardest right because the airlines really start looking at you seriously at 1500 hours now back then it was even more i know i regularly remember people having to get to two thousand three thousand hours before the airlines would look at them so i’m kind of curious about your first thousand hours like how did you get those?
Capt Alfaro: Um well the uh so i learned how to fly and i got to the 200 you know i got my commercial multi-instrument i roughly had about 211 uh 215 hours uh by then i had gotten my amp and i was working um in the northwest corner of miami international airport back then fondly known as corrosion corner because it was all full of dc-3s dc-67s constellations and everything that belonged in the museum it was parked over there because we were flying mangoes baby chickens and and passengers so i had the 200 and uh and so odd hours and the uh uh gentleman that i was working for was an eastern airlines captain that owned a couple dc-3s and the hammond herons and he goes uh if you’re interested in flying i’ll put you i’ll put you in the right seat of dc3 because hey you know what you’re added value to me you fly and if you break it you can fix it because you’re you’re an emp so i got hired flying the dc3 when i had roughly about 211 hours.
Eddy Wayman: so you’re a dual threat there amp and and a pilot and you know they still do that all the dc threes that fly out of opelaca every single one of those pilots is required to be an amp and there’s at least three or four dc3s flying into the bahamas every day out of opf.
Capt Alfaro: Every hour you fly you work on it three hours on the ground i know i believe but you know what uh what a great experience uh uh and uh flew with a lot of uh uh older pilots that
had tons of experience um lots of uh um you know we’re all pilots and you know the the great thing about this profession is we let the airlines compete you know we we really don’t compete pilot against pilot because we’re always competing against ourselves to try to make ourselves better so we’re always always uh open to impart knowledge open to share ideas and thoughts because you know it would make it made me better hopefully you can learn something from it and it’ll make you better or if you give you this situation uh you know crosses your path maybe you can remember what you know an old guy told you a long time ago and it helped you mitigate it and made and made you more for it so you know that’s one of the few professions where um i think that it makes us special because we’re always trying to make ourselves better compete you know nobody’s going to get you know we’re going to compete against ourselves and try to make ourselves better and then let the other external resource you know force us do that but we’re always open to helping each other out.
Eddy Wayman: That’s a great observation i’ve always seen a lot of camaraderie among pilots you know sharing stories all the organizations uh obap organizes for black aerospace professionals the latino pilots association lpa the 99s female pods association women in aviation there’s a lot of this camaraderie uh sharing of stories and reaching down reaching out and reaching down to people that are coming up the ranks right like if you’re climbing up the ladder it’s good to reach back and help people up uh you have to grow the aviation profession and particularly in this moment where we need so many pilots so that first job in the dc3 is that
really where you put on the bulk of your time early on in your career?
Capt Alfaro: Yeah so i stayed there and i got to uh close to 4000 hours flying uh fun dc3 and uh you must know that bird really well my gosh oh i still remember you know it’s always like that first airplane you still remember you know the carry you know carried 25 gallons of oil uh total capacity was 29 gallons because you have four gallons of foam and burn one one gallon an hour eight hundred you know so i mean nice that’s a that was that was your first love i mean that’s yo you know you always remember that so yeah.
Eddy Wayman: I remember the guys little blogger saying if it’s not leaking you don’t you’re out of oil you gotta put more all the time yeah next time you wrote a lock i’d love to introduce you to those guys they still do fly every single day oh awesome i would love to do that yeah yeah four thousand hours in the dc threes uh man i bet a lot of people would love to do that right now you know now they give they like raffle off dc three flights uh and for the commemorative air force and stuff like that people pay a lot of money to fly dc3s now four thousand hours a lot of experience um so that’s so important so you got that job by working maintenance uh over in that corner and just kind of making the connections so i i say this a lot to young pilots right nothing is handed to you all right you might have this certificate that certificate xyz you gotta you gotta aviation’s such a small network you’ve got to hang out at the fbos be friendly be helpful give your time volunteer with the organizations that’s how you beat that person that might have the next job or be your next captain or chief or whatever it might be so that’s interesting the way you got those so uh from the dc threes you’ve got your 4000 hours is it straight to airlines at that point?
Capt Alfaro: No uh and you know uh going back on where you’re saying you know you have to you have to create your network you have to create um a um a network of friends and professionals and all that because when i got hired with 214 hours eastern had just furloughed pan am was uh furlong because they had just burned merged with national airlines uh braniff was having his issues there was there was pilots here with five six ten thousand hours that were dying to have that job that i had wow and stuff and more qualified a lot more qualified but you know um you you know by no shortcuts by you know showing up being present every day doing everything that was asked asked of me you know change this tire uh clean the hanger floor change the light bulb you know be present do everything that’s asked for you hard work hard work will always always pay pay off i mean i i can’t say that enough and if you do everything that’s asked of you you’re gonna see that when time comes then you know you it’s not a reward is that and now it’s your time you know everything happens at at a certain season and you have to make sure that you have all the tools you know that have been given to you that you have the tools and the preparation so when it’s your season you are ready to uh to go there.
Eddy Wayman: I heard one opportunity present itself and i like what you say there about no job too small i heard a quote recently i wish i knew who to attribute it to but it was something along the lines of every job is too big for a small man and there’s no job too big no job too small for a big man i love that we want to kind of post that up in signs around the building
Capt Alfaro: Absolutely and you know and um a lot of uh and you know sometimes like when you’re going through the flight schools you know you’re starting a group and a group together flying and and you see you know one guy all of a sudden nope he got a job like man i wonder man that would have been a great job for me to get or oh man this guy got a job flying the king air here i’m still here you know you know 172 just getting you know flying around beating my you know beating myself up and this guy like that and we tend to label uh oh that guy’s so lucky or this guy or man this guy lucked out and you know and and and a lot and and some people that i know and i was one of them i started to resent that i started to resent that that label of oh this guy is so lucky because you know yeah just this happened until i was uh talking to one of the you know what he’s obap and and stuff that we all belong to and stuff like that uh this this gentleman brought brought it to my attention he goes look um he redefined the definition of luck to me and it’s taught and it’s referring back to that season and preparedness because you know definition of luck is it’s where opportunity and hard work cross because if you didn’t do the hard work right all every opportunity in the world will pass you by because you won’t be able to take advantage of it yeah but if you don’t take a lot of hard work to get lucky yes exactly
Eddy Wayman: It takes a lot of hard work to get lucky exactly so then what was your next step after the dc3s?
Capt Alfaro: So after the dc3 i ended up uh flying down in uh in columbia down there for a uh um a um um alex tiricano they they were flying uh this is ready main aircraft it was called an arava and it was short field takeoff and we’re landing on sides of beaches and gravel strips and all that and got a lot of good experience down there and then ended up flying for uh um these i was a dc-9 captain for um a charter company called emerald airlines they threw dc 9-10 out of lauderdale to nassau to the bahamas and uh they were based out of atlantic city for the for the casinos and then after i got hired with the piedmont airlines in 1986.
Eddy Wayman: Excellent all right is it that piedmont is your path up to american airlines?
Capt Alfaro: Yes so um uh three years after i was with piedmont there used to be a company out of uh pittsburgh called allegheny airlines they had just changed the name to usair and then they bought a company out in california called psa pacific south coast airline and bought us and changed the name to u.s airways and then bought a couple more.
Eddy Wayman: Man you’ve been through all so first there’s so many things to unpack right there right so you are definitely an international pilot it has been in colombia time’s been flying throughout the bahamas it makes so much sense because miami is such an international base you know i saw a posting recently for an international chief pilot i’m like is that a special thing i guess so because all the flights down here are international somebody was telling me that they loved uh being based in miami because they bid on all the international flights while a lot of the american pilots and he’s also cuban actually uh it’s uh flying for spare right now probably gonna end up in your pool sometime soon um so he was saying that he loves bidding the south american flights because all the americans that are from ohio and in illinois they don’t want to fly down to south america so he gets his pick of the litter and gets to eat really well on every layover right yeah so uh that’s really interesting so um and that’s kind of the big thing because there is so much competition domestically right we’ve got the low-cost carriers and the regionals of course are supporting america now you’ve got three of your own wholly owned regionals so really when i think of of the mainland carriers like like american analysts i do think of those international flights those long-haul flights what’s the longest flight coming out of miami now.
Capt Alfaro: Uh tel aviv was almost 12 hours.
Eddy Wayman: Wow that i’m not even sure how that would happen that’s like equatorial like how does that get over there?
Capt Alfaro: Uh it does a random route across the uh um atlantic um the coast in around uh uh portugal this is uh north of the azores so they do a random round on the triple seven because they can go uh you know 316 minutes single engine that kind of stuff so with the engines that we have so yeah so that’s our longest it’s a four man crew because of the uh flight time um so that’s our longest route here out of miami now.
Eddy Wayman: Tel Aviv i had no idea that was a direct miami tel aviv and that makes sense because there is a big israeli population down here right especially down by the beach that’s and that’s the interesting thing about miami there’s so many pockets of people from everywhere it’s a very multicultural place um and i think really that is the a big part of that is because of american airlines and just how easy it is to get here right how easy to get here from just about any part of the world clearly south america europe and uh and israel that’s really interesting now uh in all your career you’ve been flying now for so long do you have a fury destination something that when it comes up you like to bid on going to this particular place is do you have a favorite.
Capt Alfaro: Um i used to but now my favorite is just flying yeah be able to take off and uh and it doesn’t even need to be a long flight anymore because um you know as uh as a director or as our chief pilots we still have to maintain our currency we still have to maintain our uh three takeoffs and landings in 90 days we still have to do our uh biannual reviews you know and training we still have to uh contractually we have to fly so many hours a year brandon’s not that much but just so i tried to pick up uh short flights with uh you know uh a one or two day with multiple so i get a lot of practice of taking off and landings and just get get that reputation and you know get back into the game game of flying i mean it’s and that’s and it’s a word wrong word of game but um yeah the practice of it yeah yeah the the the good the the great thing about flying is whatever else you have you as pilots we have to learn how to compartmentalize we do it when we have a situation or emergency in the airplane where you have to you know either delegate tasks or prioritize tasks and also in just like normal life that you know uh yeah i got uh you know i got a plumbing issue at home but you know that i have to set that aside i gotta put it aside because i have to be a 100 percent focused on what i’m doing so it helps you prioritize it helps you do the tasks at hand of what you have to do and kind of puts everything in the background and that’s so what’s my favorite what’s my favorite uh uh destination uh you know v1 at miami international airport off you’re going someplace.
Eddy Wayman: Nice uh so you touched on something interesting that i honestly hadn’t occurred to me until just now there must have been some point in your career where you are uh you know you’re 100 pilots and then this opportunity comes to go into management right was that a gradual thing did the opportunity just pop up how did you come into being part of uh operations versus just you know being the line pilot um by uh circumstance um i was a uh so at u.s airways we flew the e190 the big brother of the 170 175 that a lot of our regionals had um i had a uh i had it was a brand new airplane to our fleet so we didn’t have the pairing limitations that we do like now we don’t we don’t pair uh two pilots together that either one of them had less than 75 hours you know together so it’s apparent limitation and it’s a safety thing but when it’s a new airplane everybody’s got less than 75 hours so i had a uh brand new fo just out of ioe and i had 35 hours and i had an faa inspector on board and we’re going from philadelphia to boston and what i found out later on was that the airplane while i was being uh delivered from brazil and had a lightning strike so your flight you know philly two you know bosses you know 50 some minutes in the air over uh just on the other side of jfk uh outside of providence we had um multiple bus faults failures where we lost the uh we’re losing the cabin couldn’t control the temperature um half breaks spoilers uh half flaps had multiple uh situations and so um this faa guy that was in the jump seat kind of liked the way that our crew coordination was we we let training kick in uh we did all the stuff that we’re supposed to do and um he was impressed how we handled the situation came and landed made a soft landing the uh our equipment followed us to the gate it took him four days before the airplane would even take power uh oh to do that and so he wrote a nice letter to the training uh fleet captain and they were looking for uh check airmen uh to do ioes line check airmen and he offered me the job to do that and that unbeknownst to me sent me on this path to hear um you know um anything that you do in your career that can highlight you whether you seek it or just kind of falls in your lap like hello me and so um that highlight you you know anything that you do above and beyond being a part you know check airman uh work you know work in the safety department uh even with us here you know volunteer to do union uh uh with union positions volunteer to do uh community events we were very involved with the community down here in south florida anything that you do extra you know is going to highlight you and it’s also another piece that you that you bring um that can elevate you to the next level um so i started on that path in the training department i thought i was just going to stay there because i really enjoyed training i thought it was uh was my passion but i i found out later that my actual passion was helping people and that’s what led me to the office itself.
Eddy Wayman: That’s interesting that’s interesting uh wow so it was probably one of your worst flights led to one of your best opportunities yes all right yeah that’s right and uh and you’re right you know i’ve you know since i’ve met you i’ve been very impressed because i can’t think of a busier guy whose phone is always going off than you know american airlines chief and director of flight operations and yet you match the time to go out and speak to miami-dade college to speak to florida memorial both of those are our wayman partners and really happy to be supporting them and really are going out there and doing a lot of outreach uh it’s it’s very impressive is it um you know that’s on your own time i imagine right that’s just kind of spreading the spreading the word spreading the gospel of aviation and uh yeah it’s very impressive and you’re absolutely right about taking that extra step right so i always recommend to students that they join you know a good organization whether it’s the 99s or opa whatever it might be but don’t just pay the 20 feet volunteer right go to a career fair go to an open house you know uh you might be like the 100 hour private pilot that volunteered but the guy’s going with you is you know an american airlines captain right or an envoy first officer and then you get to know him and gotta get to know the ropes now you’ve got that contact right because like i said it’s not enough to have the hours and certificates uh you know as much as we as you are hiring and everyone’s hiring right now it’s important to have that contact like somebody to kind of get that you know put your resume in now let me see if i can set a letter of recommendation so important letter recommendations um so that’s great that you do as much outreach as you do absolutely and american airlines in general is such a generous company it’s a lot of uh charities that they support not just in miami but really throughout the country.
Capt Alfaro: You know i i think it’s it’s trying to give back to uh you know for us as pilots still professions given us so much um you know uh they’re um one thing that we’re doing now here so um the uh colgan um accident back in 2006 i think it was 2007. one of one of the last pieces of that of that ruling of that accident was that that all the airlines are required to develop what we call plm professionalism leadership and mentoring program the good captains have always been that okay captains have always and you know there’s a saying that you know somebody’s been mentored always has a better a better line of sight has a better vision of things going on than than the one than uh than the one that’s actually doing the mentoring because he’s standing on shoulders of giants so you have a better visibility so we’re having classes like this every every day here at our hub for uh captains and uh wide-body fos any any pilot that sits in the left seat because um 60% of us will be retired within the next six years at american airlines so we’re using this wow so this is so we’ll get we’re allowing this to be the opportunity for our leaders our captains or soon-to-be captains to leave that um that uh um you know that footprint on the ones that are behind us to make sure that they are standing on shoulders of giants because you know we have such great men and women here they are the are those giants that though hopefully with this program they’re going to even be better pilots better mentors better leaders better professionals than we are because they have the hindsight and the legacy of us that are getting ready to walk out the door
Eddy Wayman: now that’s going to be a challenge of itself because when you when you think of a captain it is leadership right you’re leading a crew you’re leading cabin crew passengers all things managing an organization of leaders leading an organization of leaders is that more challenging or is it everyone kind of gets it and and and and follows better when you’re a good leader what do you think about that?
Capt Alfaro: Um it’s uh um adapting to each to each leader um we are uh pilots tend to be leader type to be a type a personalities guys that you know just keep throwing you know men and women that just keep throwing stuff on my shoulder i can handle it throw me in coach i got this and all that and um as their leader you need to be aware of when you can say okay you know that’s you got enough i need to i need to step in and help you you you may need help with this um you know you need to be able to and and uh and i attribute that to like a two-man crew you know you have the pilot flying and he’s wrestling the alligator right you can have an engine out and he’s there sweating and he’s you know his vision like the inside of a straw right it’s up and the other guy the pilot not flying or the pilot monitoring which is what we call it call it an american airlines that’s running checklists and all that stuff he’s got task load so his field division so he can see everything you’re missing this you’re missing this you’re missing even though he’s wrestling the alligator doing a great job because of field division so but sometimes by stepping back uh as a leader and getting a you know a wider a wider view of what’s happening um you can maybe interject and help out another leader.
Eddy Wayman: That’s interesting and that’s a a soft skill that we teach here is that you’ve got to be able to look at the details but not lose sight of you know not not lose the force for the trees right and uh and it is something that people tend to go one way or the other you know they’re either you know very generalist or very narrow but i guess as a pilot you really have to be both um you know we’re getting to the end of our time but we do have a couple of questions i see on our facebook we have a couple of people that have asked questions um this is more about the technical side rory here wants to know about total time and turbine time to be competitive or to expect a call for an interview at american airlines i mean i know the minimums are published but are you kind of taking anyone that applies to those minimums or are you looking for a threshold
Capt Alfaro: um no i mean the the minimum is what it’s a minimum i i do tell i i tell uh uh pilots that are interested two things a couple of things that will highlight you uh and we we’ve spoken a couple of them already you know if you’re a check airman if you’re doing anything outside that will highlight you another thing is uh keep updating um every time that you update you’re you’re sending a signal to american airlines say hey you know what i’m he’s still out there and he’s still interested in being an american uh airlines um uh uh pilot and then if you know a uh an american airlines pilot or someone that you’ve flown with that can write you a letter recommendation those those three things are always will kind of keep you you at the top of the stack sort of speak for lack of a better term um i think one of the minimums is like 450 hours or 500 hours turbine pic time so anytime after that now you’re you’re you’re marketable.
Eddy Wayman: That’s interesting all right so it’s not so much the minimums it’s all the others or like if you’re applying for college all the extracurriculars as they say right have you gone above and beyond that’s interesting that’s interesting um rory also has a question about how do you recommend preparing for those pilot skills assessments now um like we talked about a moment ago i think if you’re applying for american airlines you can fly at this point right you should be able to pass the basics but what i’m more curious about is that there are people out there that offer uh the career coaching you know they will prep you for interviews and those kind of things uh do you think that works is that a smart way to go?
Capt Alfaro: I think so because it just um it gives you uh um a heightened awareness of what what they’re looking for and then kind of coach you up i know that um uh at us airways i did uh interviews for a short time because we did uh we used to use jack airman which i was at the time to do the technical part of the uh of the uh of the interview um and you could as an interviewer you could definitely tell who has and it’s just a just another way of preparing so it’s just like when somebody shows up to check ride something shows up to an oral somebody shows up to an interview you know who’s prepared and who’s not prepared and that one of those coaching thing is just another it’s another resource that you have available to you of being prepared.
Eddy Wayman: You don’t want to be on the not prepared list you want to be on the variable right it works out yeah it never works out well when you’re on the not prepared list yes yeah absolutely absolutely um so being as much outreach you do and as many you’ve probably mentored countless pilots you know from the beginning and middle and pretty far along in their careers um what advice would you give to your very junior just got the commercial or just about to get their commercial pilot what advice would you give to that kind of aviator.
Capt Alfaro:um so you have your licenses but you need you need the experience um you know find someone that has that slightly above you or a mentor or the school that you just finished getting your ratings because they’ve they’ve been through this road many times before so they can guide you and whatever and the path that that you see because you know um not all roads lead to the same place i mean we know there’s different opportunities uh to get to where you want to be so reach out to the ones before you the ones that have you know or maybe a 1500 hours or just got you know just just got to uh an envoy or piedmont or a psa airlines and ask them you know how how did you get here and and learn from them um because the first of all they’re going to tell you is what like we’re pilots right you come in from a checker and he goes hey so tell me how i went and we’re going to tell them what everything that we did wrong i was off 10 degrees off this heading i did this i was down 50 feet and i thought no hey you passed the check right we always you know so that person is going to tell you every mistake that they made to get to the 1500 hours so learn from that try not to make the same ones and uh and file their guidance .
Eddy Wayman: So let’s do three levels of this right so we’ve got the 250 hour guy so you’ve got 1500 mr cfi right he just he just finally he’s celebrated just got 1500 hours the world’s his oyster now what do you do how do you choose it seems like everyone wants that guy
Capt Alfaro: or girl yeah um well it’s it’s a it’s a a great place to be because um you know now now you can go to you know the regionals um when i got hired the biggest thing i’ve seen from our generations a generation now is when we got hired we changed our lives to match the airline that rolled the dice and said you know what i’m gonna pick you to bingo cause i think you’re the uh you know you’ll be a great fit here for xyz airline and back then as part of your interview they put you in a simulator all of us as part of our interview we were going to see that you walk into the sim on an airplane you never flown before not even seen before and they gave you this piece of paper to go they want to do this enter the whole and come back and land i go okay where’s you know where’s where’s anything you know and to do that we don’t do that anymore because like you said any the expectation is you got this level you know how to fly the way that the training schools are now the way that all the uh uh automation and technology to get the pilots prepared to to do that now manifest itself because you don’t go in the sim to get as part of your interview because the expectation is that have you been have you gone through a wayman you know how to fly you have the the the not only the basics uh principles but you have the advanced principles of aviation and you know how to fly so now everything else is what comes into place.
Eddy Wayman: Yeah that makes a lot of sense all right so then that that third level you’ve got someone who’s been flying for a while like they’re at the low-cost carriers or the regionals and they’re ready to make that step to the to the main line right
Capt Alfaro: Um that i feel like that’s you know talk about a pyramid you’re getting to the top of the pyramid there right how does somebody uh what should somebody be thinking about when they’re making that step where to apply and where to go and take that final step um well it depends on what stage your life you and like i said now there’s so many opportunities that you can pick the airline and i hope it’s american but that uh you you pick the one that works best for your life for your for your for your family for your family’s life for you for your life where you know if if you want to uh if you want to live in denver then you probably go get hired by united because you know they have a base there you know if you want to live in uh phoenix and you know american do we have a base there you know or you can almost you want to live in seattle well it’s going to probably be alaska so now you can all because they’re all hiring they’re all looking for qualified uh folks so now you are you’re the one that’s choosing to a certain extent on who you want to apply for who you want to uh try to to get on with i can tell you here personally we’ve had uh in our new higher classes we’ve had fives leaving united pilots leaving southwest um i was leaving you know uh the other tier you know uh frontier spirit because hey i i live here and you know i got out higher with this airline i don’t want to commute anymore my my whole family’s here my life is going to be here so i’m going to grab i’m going to get the airline that best matches me as opposed to how it used to be before i got hyper piedmont airline and i got based in road of virginia i didn’t even even couldn’t find it in a map much less spell it and stuff and that was my that was my first crew base.
Wayman Eddy: That’s interesting wow that is such a big change just in the last you know five ten years it’s really it’s really interesting and really exciting for everyone coming up uh i thank you so much for giving us an hour of your very busy afternoon um any last thoughts of how people could reach out to american airlines learn more i imagine american islands websites right we’ve got a great cadet program going on and we hope to be part of that cadet program one day what’s a great way to reach out.
Capt Alfaro: Um so pretty much everything’s online so with the cadet program also the credit union aaa credit union is also um you know just you can do it just not have to be an american airlines you can you know anyone can join the credit union really will allow uh help you with uh financing because now they’re approving for uh flying and helping you play for the flying so uh everything’s on the uh website uh i know that um wayman is a is a great partner in in advancing the uh the aviation that we live in a mat we live in i think in the in the very magical places it’s it’s the uh birthplace i think of aviation it’s a center of aviation here and anything that i can do and i know you’re on board with that to promote it to make it better than it is then uh we’re always available for it and we’ll definitely support it and be on board with so i thank you for the opportunity to talk to everyone and enjoy it look forward to doing it again.
Eddy Wayman: Thank you so much captain alfaro and thank you everyone for joining us today and those of you that listen to the podcast uh make sure to like and subscribe follow us on all the social media instagram facebook whatever it is you like at weymon aviation on all those platforms thank you so much Captain Alfaro and thank you much everyone for listening this afternoon have a great flight and be the captain!