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John_Cillis

Finally, my career and hobby have merged...

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It's been a hectic three days for me.  I was on a business trip in Roanoke Virginia when I got a call asking if I'd be willing to consider an IT testing and dev contract with US Airways/American in Phoenix, where I've lived for 18 years.  So on Friday afternoon I started the long drive back to Arizona for an interview at the US Airways complex in Tempe, AZ.  I split most of the 2200 mile drive over three travel days and got to Tempe about five minutes before my scheduled interview.  I did not expect to hear anything so soon, but no sooner did I get home a few hours later than the phone rang with an offer.

 

It's funny--I've been simming for almost exactly 30 years--got a C64 for FSII and never looked back.  During the interview I shared the programming fun I used to have with the C64, since my new contract will require a fair amount of programming.  I used to write programs for the C64 in assembly language.  Programming tools have changed, I will be working with C# mostly.

 

It's not a perm contract--most work in my field now is on a contract basis, but it's nice to have my hobby come full circle and actually end up with an airline, especially one with such a huge hometown presence--the facility is sprawling and it's a good 1/4 mile from end to end (and separate from their HQ).

 

Anyway, thanks for letting me share...

 

John

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Hi John,

 

Welcome to the club! Being a long time flight simmer and aviation buff, when I got hired on with WestJet Airlines here in Calgary I was smiling from ear to ear for months. You'll be like a kid in a candy store and if there's one piece of advice I can give you it would be to make friends with people who have access to ALL parts of the facility :lol:. I was with the IT team that supports Flight Operations so I had day to day dealings with all the flight dispatchers, load planners, maintenance controllers and technical dispatch so I was able to chew the fat with them and when I would notice their charts were out of date, I would ask if I could take them rather then them being recycled. It's been the greatest time!!

 

Enjoy every minute of it and congrats!

 

Mike

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Congratulations John! The best job is the one you enjoy doing. Makes it a lot easier to get up in the morning. Its always nice to read about something great happening to someone. With your enthusiasm you'll probably be there there as long as you want. Hope it works out well for you.

 

Ted

 

P.S. I Just remembered that the last time I fly out of Phoenix (a few years ago) the entire US Airways computer system in the terminal went down before I got my boarding pass and I missed my flight. They need you!

 

If it happens again I know who to PM on the Avsim forums now. :lol:

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Anyway, thanks for letting me share...



John

 

CONGRATULATIONS JOHN, nice to hear some good news for a change and I will bet you will have a ball!!!

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Well done John! Congratulations! Another AVSIM son done well. :Big Grin:

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Congrats John...Now anyone over the past 30 years that question your hobby this would be a good time to say there is always a benefit in everything that you do. One thing does lead to another.

 

Enjoy the new job mate

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Anyway, thanks for letting me share...

 

I for one am glad you did share the news as are the others offering their congratulations, . . . plus one on that.

 

The best job a person can have is one they would do out of love for free as a hobby. Good luck and enjoy! :Applause:

 

Now if we could just find someone who is looking to hire a bunch of work at home, fly at home, FS pilots there would be bliss all around. :Praying:

 

Regards,

Mel

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Just came across whilst surfing the forums. Congrats John, sounds like a great gig.

 

Funnily enough, I'm an ex IT consultant but changed career to being a pilot. Even though flying is the dream come true, now that I am away from the politics of the IT business I kinda miss the creativity of systems development and I'm still goofing with Java and Perl these days.

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Congrats John, and thanks for sharing the story! :smile:

 

Jim

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Congrats!  I often think that I'd love a spot working for an airline doing almost anything! :P

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Just an update--I started my new contact a couple weeks' ago.  It took a bit of time to go thru all the background checks since I have to work with sensitive data.  I'm working on what I hoped for, on the changes to crew scheduling that need to take place for the merger.  I never participated in virtual airlines in our hobby but now my job gets me to see how the pilots and flight attendants get matched to their flights and how all that is juggled based on seniority, time off, etc.   My role is that of testing the code and I've gained a whole new insight into Visual Studio, since most of my prior programming experience (i.e. Landclass Assistant for MSFS) was in VB 6.

 

My colleagues are great to work with, and our cube farm is adorned with posters of US Airways aircraft and destinations as well as some vintage posters of earlier aircraft. 

 

Again it is so exciting to have two hobbies--simming and my interest in coding, to have finally merged into what many of us dream about.  And the cool thing, I can go thru the employee line at the airport--no more long security lines....

 

JC

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I was wondering how that position was working out for you John. Glad to hear its going well and you are enjoying it.

 

I am also Interested in hearing how the pilots get the flight attendants that they have an interest in scheduled onto their flights and vice versa these days. :Big Grin:

 

Ted

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John,

          If the length of your contract is tied to the amount of time it takes to merge the pilot groups, you're going to be there a loooong time. Take it from a 35 year US Airways employee who is facing his fourth and last merger. I'm Fleet Service in DFW. Welcome to the family.

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So what's the deal with US moving their HQ to DFW now, because of the AA merger? Has this affected your job or will they stay in Phoenix for a bit?

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A hearty congratulations, John.  A job has to be "fun".  If it's not, then move on.   Sounds like you are going to have a lot of fun!

 

Stan

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So what's the deal with US moving their HQ to DFW now, because of the AA merger?

Mike,

         I know your question is for John, but maybe I can offer some insight into why the move to Dallas, American is by far the larger airline and the DFW metroplex market is much larger than Phoenix. It was decided very early in the merger negotiation that the headquarters for the "New" American Airlines would be in Dallas. Eventually, US Airway's dispatchers will move to DFW along with our Central Load Planning. Both of those facilities are currently in Pittsburgh. Before it's over, there will be numerous people displaced and furloughed from their current positions. Don't be surprised if multiple hubs aren't downsized or eliminated before it's over.

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Mike,

         I know your question is for John, but maybe I can offer some insight into why the move to Dallas, American is by far the larger airline and the DFW metroplex market is much larger than Phoenix. It was decided very early in the merger negotiation that the headquarters for the "New" American Airlines would be in Dallas. Eventually, US Airway's dispatchers will move to DFW along with our Central Load Planning. Both of those facilities are currently in Pittsburgh. Before it's over, there will be numerous people displaced and furloughed from their current positions. Don't be surprised if multiple hubs aren't downsized or eliminated before it's over.

 

And as a veteran of many mergers in the organizations I have done IT work for, if there is a complex such as the one I work in or the ones Americans personnel work in, chances are the real estate and resources those complexes serve are too valuable to give up.

 

 In the case where I was involved in past mergers, I was with IT groups similar to the one I participate in now and we provided essential services as we were the only ones trained for them--remembering that software development is done from the ground up when new systems are created to support a larger entity. 

 

There was one exception, when I worked for Doubletree back in the 90's.  They bought out Hilton and promptly abandoned Phoenix for good reason--Hilton had by far the bigger IT organization.  My two supervisors left for Memphis and both left Hilton unhappy, since Hilton's culture absorbed Doubletree's.  I could have also went to Memphis but Phoenicians don't believe in humid weather.....  Just kidding, I do like Tennessee but I wouldn't have moved there since my wife and I were happy in Phoenix and I had a new job with Best Western almost immediately.

 

I don't think I would be asked to relocate to Dallas and since I work as a contractor, work elsewhere would be easy to come by.  The most affected will probably be some infrastructure and some crew resources, but given the projected growth in air travel I suspect there will be more than enough work to go around.  Being either a pilot or flight attendant is not an easy role and there will be a growing need for both in our industry.  And infrastructure, such as HR, has skilled people who are highly sought after.  Whatever happens, I've just learned to take it as it comes having grown up career wise, so to speak, in a merger culture.

 

John

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John,

          The culling of management and non-contract personnel has been underway for quite some time. The realignment of hubs will take a few years and will probably start the day after the time period that Parker gave the politicos for no change runs out. For an example, see what United did to Continental's former hub in Cleveland or what Delta did to Northwest's hub in Memphis. 

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John,

          The culling of management and non-contract personnel has been underway for quite some time. The realignment of hubs will take a few years and will probably start the day after the time period that Parker gave the politicos for no change runs out. For an example, see what United did to Continental's former hub in Cleveland or what Delta did to Northwest's hub in Memphis. 

 

It's always sad to see that, especially when people have tenure.  I hope the industry can absorb them.  Our area is different, since it is mandated with creating infrastructure for the new company and as noted, it will take a while.  One thing I do know working in IT (which is why I became a contractor and shy away from perm offers) is that my work is project driven and once one project ends, some other company elsewhere is looking to start a new one.  I hope I can stay with the new American and would probably relocate to Dallas if given the opportunity, just because all my life my passion has been flying and now my interest has grown as I learn how flight attendants and pilots keep us moving.  I always knew, but you get a new respect when you know they are counting on you and the team you belong in to create a system that makes their lives even a bit easier.

 

John

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John,

          You can have my spot as I'm retiring in about 19 months. My bother was a crew scheduler for American for a lot of years. Not an easy job when you consider all of the variables, especially weather. Good luck.

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John,

          You can have my spot as I'm retiring in about 19 months. My bother was a crew scheduler for American for a lot of years. Not an easy job when you consider all of the variables, especially weather. Good luck.

 

Thanks....  The variables are what I found interesting during my first week when they gave me in depth training on how crews are scheduled.  Moreover, factors such as delays on long haul flights come into play since the pilots can't be behind the controls after a certain number of hours, so they actually carry spare resources on some flights in case there's a short turnaround (I've been delayed traveling commercial in the past simply because an incoming flight's crew exceeded their time limit and couldn't fly the turnaround).  I use these factors when considering what tests to code for against the software--so called "happy path" and negative testing.

 

My favorite part of going to work though is being able to take a break and watch the traffic taking off and landing, followed by when I pull into the parking lot with Terminal 4 and the Tower in the background.  In spite of the crew layoffs, our area is jammed with employees and there is a wait for space given the systems deliverables we have for the merger.

 

John

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Congratulations for finding a job that you enjoy. I kind of wonder if some day my hobby will become my career, but the other way around. I am a professional developer and I have been writing codes for the past 11 years. Developing websites scaled for the cloud, setting up databases and migrating servers is starting to get a bit boring to me (but I still quite like it at the moment). I have also been playing flight simulation since the Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 era (anyone tried that?). Wouldn't it be amazing if someday I become an airline pilot flying the latest Boeing 787 onto a 9000ft asphalt runway!

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