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FAA hiring Airspace System Inspection Pilot

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FAA hiring Airspace System Inspection Pilot

Old 07-19-2023, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PerfInit View Post
Heard from a fren that Flight Check is not doing any more “periodic” inspections of SIAPs in the NAS for the remainder of 2023 due to “budget” shortfalls. Fact or Fiction?
Not true at all.
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Old 07-19-2023, 06:51 PM
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Only 11 months since my last update. Honestly, I've hesitated to post just because everything's changing with the hiring process and the training program, and I am the "last" of the "old way". Since I'm not a trainer or on staff, I don't know enough about the "new way" to speak intelligently about it. So I won't.

But as for me, I've spent the last year flying as much as possible to learn the job. I've traveled to our other offices and flown out of there. I've volunteered for weekend shifts and airplane repositionings and even post-maintenance check flights. Anything to help learn and get upgraded faster.

I'm sure USMCFlyer talked about it somewhere else in this thread, but in the "ideal" flight inspection crew, both pilots would be fully qualified in the mission, what we call an ASIP, for "Airspace System Inspection Pilot". For any given multi-day itinerary, one is designated the PIC and one is the SIC, with certain responsibilities to each person. On the ground, the PIC is the one who will coordinate with ATC and Tech Ops, determine the flow of inspections, brief the crew, etc. The SIC typically does "airplane-related" and other duties like preflight, arranging for fueling, calling the FBO, getting rental cars, etc.

In the cockpit, the flying is done from the left seat while the right seater does the ATC comm, mission coordination, listening to the ground techs, working with the mission specialist and ATC if the plan needs to change, all that kind of stuff. Typically, the two pilots switch seats daily to keep it interesting. Since both are fully qualified, it's no big deal.

During my training, I have also typically swapped seats each day. I am fully qualified to operate the airplane (type rating, currency, etc.) but NOT as an ASIP. So I can't be designated the PIC. But through the course of training I have been watching and learning those additional duties of the PIC in preparation for my ASIP checkride. In the last few months the PICs I have flown with have often given me the chance to be what we call "boy PIC" where I have been the one calling and emailing ATC, working with our schedulers, etc, the week prior to the itinerary, and controlling the flow of the events in the air. This has gone well I think.

In fact, I have my ASIP checkride scheduled for the third week of August! Lots of studying to do before then, but I feel pretty good. I have three more itineraries on my schedule before then for some extra practice, then I'll be there.

And in case any of you wonder if I get to fly with USMCFlyer at all, yes, we have several times. In fact, he will be my SIC during my ASIP checkride.

I guess that demands a little more explanation. On our ASIP checkrides, the evaluator isn't evaluating pilot skill. Rather, they are evaluating the ability to run the whole operation. So the evaluator will sit in the back as an additional crewmember, and the applicant (me) serves as PIC with another full-qualified ASIP as SIC. The checkride lasts the whole itinerary, so typically 4 days!
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Old 08-06-2023, 10:47 AM
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Default Very Interested....

Having read through this entire thread, I must say that I am very intrigued by this type of flying. The mission sounds amazing/rewarding and the possibility of having a flying job with a somewhat normal schedule is very appealing!

Currently, I am at just under 3000 TT with around 1000 PIC (600-700 Pt121 PIC). Previous USAF Flight Engineer and hold type ratings in the B767/757, ERJ145 and ERJ170/175. Presently employed as a captain at a regional airline. Left my last flying gig on the 767 during COVID and came back to flying recently, after regionals started offering large sign on bonuses and higher pay rates. Since returning to the airlines, I remember why I left the first time...lol! Schedules leave a lot to be desired when it comes to QOL and I am not a young man anymore, so time with family is very important to me. Unfortunately, I signed a 2 year deal with the airline for the bonus and have about 16 months to go unless I want to pay back a pro-rated portion of that bonus.

That being said, I am trying to look forward and get a plan of where I would like to end up ultimately. I want my next move to be my last, as I am almost 50 and do not desire to change positions again. Also would like to have a secure position that will carry me into retirement.

If I was to be hired for the DC location where are some good places to live in the area? Currently live in Northern MD, north of Baltimore (Maybe I would not have to move?)

What is the starting salary these days for that location?

Also, any clarification on the schedule would be great...kind of confused on the working from home / time in the office (when not flying) that is mentioned in some previous posts.

Finally, any other advice or suggestions are much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-17-2023, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Av8r75 View Post

If I was to be hired for the DC location where are some good places to live in the area? Currently live in Northern MD, north of Baltimore (Maybe I would not have to move?)
I can't speak as to where to live, but at least currently* (see comments below), we are allowed to live pretty much wherever we want as long as we can make it into work for scheduled trips. Do note that it's all on your own dime - you're not getting reimbursed for travel to get to work, or hotels or anything like that. And if you get to your base and the trip is delayed for weather or maintenance or whatever, you're not getting reimbursed for your hotel that night. Basically, it's assumed you live local. If you choose to live elsewhere, that's your choice. The options here really expanded with COVID.

What is the starting salary these days for that location?
The starting pay for a SIC at the DC location is, as far as I know, a GS-13 with a special pay table increase of 57%, amounting to $132,737. Top end of the pay band for an SIC is 172,556. For a PIC (after completing upgrade training and being promoted to GS-14), the range is 146,865 to 183,500. Overtime is common, and so actual pay amounts are typically higher than these numbers.

Special pay rate table 0762 applies for Washington, DC: https://www.opm.gov/special-rates/20...201012023.aspx

I'm not sure how many people we have at the DC office, it's not a "full" flight inspection field office. There is an office in Atlantic City if that would interest you as well. We do have some non-flight inspection aircraft in DC, like the one that transports the NTSB around.

Also, when you see the jobs listed on usajobs.gov, it always posts the pay WITHOUT including the special pay rate multiplier. So you'll see a starting pay of $84,000 or something like that, which isn't the real story.

Also, any clarification on the schedule would be great...kind of confused on the working from home / time in the office (when not flying) that is mentioned in some previous posts.
Well, understand that this thread has been going on for 14 YEARS. Many things have changed, especially recently. Yes, due to COVID, but also due to technology (much, of course, driven by COVID).

Currently, we generally work from home unless we are on a trip, OR need to go to the office for some other reason (some kind of training, occasional meetings, or to fly an FCF or similar). This could always change, so there are certainly no guarantees. We have some people that live quite a way away from our office here in OKC (like several hours of driving), and they make it work. But again, that could always change with shifts in management or philosophy.

Trips are most often Tuesday to Friday, meaning 3 nights away from home, and I've been averaging every other week. This does change sometimes, sometimes there's a 5 day trip or a Mon-Thurs, and there is occasional weekend work (usually filled by volunteers), and at busy airports like DFW we will do most inspections at night - so that schedule will start Sunday evening for 4 nights. The week in between is when we write up reports on the previous week's trip, prepare for the next one, take care of annual training items, that kind of thing.

Last edited by RussR; 08-17-2023 at 04:52 PM.
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Old 08-25-2023, 06:53 AM
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Could you elaborate on what the paper work side of the job entails?
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Old 08-25-2023, 12:01 PM
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Well, I just got back from my checkride this morning, with USMCFlyer serving as my SIC for the week, and I passed! The checkride is essentially just an observation of your performance during a normal itinerary. The examiner is an extra crewmember who, unlike most aviation checkrides, does NOT serve as the copilot, as this is not so much an evaluation of pilot performance (that's taken care of on other recurring checkrides), but an evaluation of the PIC's ability to keep the mission on track and deal with issues that arise. And, lucky me, we did have some issues. We dealt with aircraft mechanical issues, facilities needing adjustment, weather delays causing a work backup, and daily flight time limitations, all in a normal 4-day trip. Got to see a lot of the "beautiful" countryside SW of Corpus Christie, TX as we did a lot of work at the Navy bases at Kingston and Orange Grove.

Originally Posted by kaputt View Post
Could you elaborate on what the paper work side of the job entails?
Well, as an example for this week, each day there is a Daily Flight Log to be filled out after we're done for the day. This documents what kinds of inspections we performed and briefly what the results were (as in, Satisfactory or not) and is used by the schedulers to determine what tasks are now complete and which ones remain. This can be pretty simple or reasonably complicated depending on the type of work. I'm still new at doing it so it takes me a little longer than it will later on, but the longest one this week took about 20 minutes. Fortunately, my technician was entering a lot of the data into the log after each inspection as we flew to the next one. This helped a lot.

Today when we got back I had to make some phone calls about some issues that arose on today's inspections - for example, one airport's PAPIs were not working but there was no NOTAM. So I called the airport manager, he issued a NOTAM and I documented it on our Daily Flight Log. Not a big deal, but took some back-and-forth.

I also had some online training I had to complete today. I'd say I spent about 2 hours after we landed taking care of the immediate issues and the online training.

Next week I am not flying, so I will be working on reports. Most inspections we do require some kind of more detailed report than just the "Sat" we filled out on the Daily Flight Log. This can be a very detailed report that the technician is involved in generating, for example on a ILS it will list all the measured signal parameters, angles and so on. I will check it and add/change any information I need to and submit it. Then there are reports that the PIC fills out for more pilot-y things like PAPI inspections. Sometimes the reports are fairly involved, and some are pretty simple selecting drop-down boxes that say "Sat". Of course there are mandatory comments on some type of reports and an approved wording and format of the comments as well.

Since I'm still new to the reports, I suspect the majority of next week will be devoted towards these reports, making sure I fill them out right, get the right wording, and get the right data into them. I know people who have been doing this for a long time that typically finish their reports by Tuesday, and I hope to be there someday.

And then, towards the end of next week I will begin preparing for the following week's itinerary as well.

So it's more paperwork than a typical flying job. But it's certainly less paperwork than any non-flying desk job such as I had before. It's all a matter of perspective!
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Old 08-25-2023, 06:40 PM
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Thanks for the detailed response RussR! I truly appreciate your insight and the time you took to respond. Had a visit to the hangar recently and was able to speak with a a few of the pilots. Still very interested and waiting to hear on next steps at this point. Thanks again for the response!
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Old 08-26-2023, 01:05 PM
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RussR beat me too it; but I was going to come on here and congratulate him for the ones following this thread and let ya'll know that he did well on his checkride and handled all of the issues that popped up. He was 'fortunate (?) enough to get all three of the Murphy's three things that can pop up and bite you on the road; but he handled them and coordinated with our maintenance on the plane issue and worked out a plan that got us back on the mission with only one sortie loss. Waco's NBD will have to get checked in the future.

Welcome RussR to the ranks of the ASIP.
Now the fun begins.
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Old 08-27-2023, 01:19 PM
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Thanks USMCFlyer, it was a good week.

He mentions the "Murphy's Law three things" that can go wrong, these are aircraft problems (either with the airplane itself or the inspection equipment onboard), facility problems (meaning, it's out of tolerance and needs adjustment), and weather problems (meaning, the weather's not good enough to do the inspection, requiring a little re-shuffling of the order of events). Lucky me to get all three.

A little more detail on the checkride seems warranted, especially since USMCFlyer mentioned that poor Waco NDB not getting inspected this past week...

The checkride is essentially the examiner observing the applicant's performance running the crew and the mission over the course of a "normal" 4-day itinerary.

But it's not really a "normal" itinerary. In order for the examiner to see your ability to handle the vast variety of tasks involved in flight inspection, the schedulers put on their sadistic hats and try to get as many of those types of tasks as possible. So, on my itinerary last week, we did the following types of inspections:

NDB (well, it had to get cut, but we did have an LOM on the ILS, so that was deemed sufficient)
TACAN ground receiver checkpoints
PAPI commissioning
Procedure amendments
"Night eval" of runway lighting
Periodic inspection of RNAV procedures

Which isn't "everything" we do (for example, I didn't have to commission a new RADAR system or ILS, or search for RF Interference), but is a pretty good sampling.

Yes, we fly PAR and TACAN in this job, which as a non-military pilot, is pretty cool I think. And yes, we fly NDBs as well, if they're still out there they need to be checked!

A "normal" itinerary wouldn't have anywhere near this variety. I'd say a more normal itinerary would have a couple of ILS inspections, a VOR or two, and a bunch of RNAV periodics. Throw in a procedure amendment every once in a while. And then there are the itineraries where there's not much variety at all - for example when we do ILS inspections at places like DFW or IAH, we do them in the middle of the night. So we'll have 4 nights in a row of just ILS inspections, but that's certainly not the norm either.
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