UPAS Takes Off
YEARS AGO, ALPA HELPED establish the Universal Pilot Application Service, Inc., the online system for companies looking for pilots and pilots looking for companies. Since then, UPAS has taken off, with hundreds companies and thousands of pilots using it for help with searches for employees or jobs.
UPAS President Judy Tarver says the major, regional, charter and corporate airlines are now using UPAS for their pilot hiring needs. Some carriers use the service as one of several resources for new pilot hiring, but TWA looks only to UPAS to find new cockpit crewmembers.
Second Officer Sean Clarke, a B-727 flight engineer, has been with TWA since September 1996, thanks in part to UPAS. He is one of many pilots TWA has hired since the airline began using UPAS when the service started in 1994.
“I was very pleased with the UPAS services throughout the hiring process,” S/O Clarke explains. “The UPAS staff was very accommodating – especially to my working schedule – and I was able to update my credentials right through my computer,” he says.
For pilots such as S/O Clarke and hundreds of others who have found jobs through the online system, UPAS is working exactly as it was designed to do when ALPA helped establish it as a way to help qualified pilots enter into and move up in today’s turbulent aviation industry.
UPAS’s roots go back to 1992 when ALPA established the national Pilot Training Service Committee, with Capt. Robert A. Pastore (TWA) as the chairman. He explains that one of the Committee’s first mandates was to develop a centralized database of pilot qualifications from which companies could search for qualified candidates.
In April 1994, ALPA’s Executive Council passed a resolution to officially establish UPAS as a separate corporation, wholly owned by ALPA.
ALPA’s Executive Board approved the loan from the Association’s Operating Contingency Fund to begin the project, and people from both inside and outside of the Association were named officers of UPAS and appointed to its Board of Directors.
UPAS began with just a few staff employees, including Tarver, who had been the manager of pilot recruitment at American Airlines, and computer consultant Doug Henderson, who developed UPAS’s sophisticated software programs.
UPAS operated from a small office in ALPA’s Herndon, VA., building during its first 2 years; but as more companies and pilots joined the online service, the staff grew and UPAS needed larger quarters. During the summer of 1996, UPAS relocated to another Herndon office complex, with enough space for the current 10 UPAS employees.
Getting on line
“Any pilot looking for employment can subscribe to the service,” she says, by requesting an information packet and Qualifications Summary Form. When completed, the form contains an extensive outline of the pilot’s credentials, employment record, and educational background. Pilots may also submit supplemental information, such as letters of reference, awards, and recommendations that may help an employer decide to interview.
S/O Clarke says that when he signed up with UPAS he also gave his preferences of what type of companies he was interested in having interviews with or positions he wanted to interview for. “You get a chance to see what airlines your name will be given to.”
Once the pilot returns the form to UPAS and the qualifications are entered into the database (pilots receive a copy to verify accuracy), the information is available to companies. These usually search through pilots’ credentials, sorting by specific criteria, such as aircraft type ratings.
Capt. Pastore explains that because pilots may not meet an airline's minimum qualifications one week – they’re short of the required flight hours, for example – they will be “invisible” to the hiring carrier.
“But with UPAS, pilots can update their qualifications as soon as they change,” he says. “And this can make the difference between getting an interview or being left behind.”