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Let's take a look at how we send invitations, how to improve the chances of being called for the interview, and the Scantron form in general.

Invitations for interviews are sent based on the latest new hire projections from WHQ, recent success rates and class size.  In a typical year, we could send anywhere from 2,000-5,000 invitations.  There is no set number of invitations sent each month.  The primary factor that determines who gets an invitation is the AE (aeronautical experience) score from the Scantron torm.  This ensures that the process remains objective, and experience is the primary factor that determines who gets invited.  We then review each file to ensure there is no other information contained on the application that should preclude an invitation.  A letter of recommendation improves the Scantron score and will be discussed in more detail in a future article in Flight Line.  To assist United in complying with legal guidelines as a federal contractor, the applicant pool is broken down into several subcategories.  In addition, we have subcategories for company employees and their children, and interns.  Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, the MEC may request that an additional temporary category be created for displaced ALPA pilots.  A percentage of the invitations may be sent to the top scores in each category.  Regardless of the subcategory, at the interview, each candidate is judged against the same standards and guidelines.

Improving the chance of getting an invitation requires increasing the AE score.  If you look at the Scantron form there are several obvious ways to improve the score.  Let's look at the flying hours columns, as well as the other boxes on the form.

Flying hours are divided into eight categories.  For civilian pilots, there are three PlC columns including single engine, multi engine, and scheduled air carrier (or turbojet).  There are two SIC columns based on gross weight for large transport and regional/corporate aircraft.  For military pilots there are two PlC categories, fighter and transport, and one SIC transport category.

Obviously, each of these categories is weighted differently, or there wouldn't be a need for separate columns.  The military side is pretty simple.  PIC transport time is factored differently than PIC fighter time based on the average flying hours per year for each type of aircraft.  PIC is obviously weighted higher than SIC.  The civilian side is a little more complicated, but similar logic applies.  Scheduled air carrier/turbojet PIC is the best possible category.  Hours in this column are weighted higher than hours in any other civilian category.

  • Example:  Your friend is currently flying as a Brasilia F/O for a commuter airline.  His ultimate goal is to become a flight officer for United Airlines.  He has the option to take an F/O bid on the new RJ, or upgrade to captain on the Brasilia.  Which is the best option to improve his Scantron score?
  • Answer:  Looking at the Scantron, your friend is currently logging hours in the lowest civilian SIC category.  Moving to the RJ will not change anything.  SIC hour in the RJ would be recorded in the same column as SIC hours in the Brasilia.  However moving to the left seat in the Brasilia (or any other scheduled air carrier aircraft) will allow him to record hours in the highest-ranking civilian column on the Scantron.  In addition, he'll acquire a type rating which allows him to fill in another box on the form, and he'll gain valuable PIC experience that will also increase the likelihood of a successful interview.
  • Example: Your daughter has an offer to fly right seat in a Learjet for a major corporation, with potential for upgrading ir 12-18 months.  She also has an opportunity to join a regional airline as a Jetstream F/O, again with the potential to upgrade in 12-18 months. (Typical upgrade time at most commuters is around 12-18 months and some considerably less).  Which one will get her to the United the fastest?
  • Answer: Similar to the above example, Learjet F/O time and Jetstream F/O time are recorded in the same SIC column on the Scantron. There's one big difference.  She might get 30 hours a month in the Learjet, but 95 hours a month in the Jetstream.  Even after she upgrades,  Jetstream time and Learjet time will go in the same PIC column.  Again, 30 hours a month or 95 horus a month?  Which one will get her to United faster?

This is not to say that any of the above career choices are bad.  There is certainly some merit to gaining experience in a turbojet aircraft versus a turboprop, and not every civilian applicant has to fly for a regional airline to be successful.  However, the above examples are based solely on how to increase the Scantron form score in the shortest possible time.

What about the rest of the Scantron?  Generally, the more boxes you can fill in , the better the score.  A bachelor’s degree is certainly worth more than a high school diploma.  An ATP helps.  The more type ratings with 300 hours in type, the better.  Note that the requirement does not say 300 hours PIC in type, just 300 hours in type.

One final point.  THE SCANTRON INSTRUCTIONS HAVE RECENTLY BEEN REVISED.  We have tried to enhance the instructions to ensure there is no confusion.  It is critical that the applicant follow ALL instructions on the front and back of the form.  Prior to the interview, all Scantron forms in the file will be compared to the applicant's flight records.    IF IT IS DETERMINED THAT THE QUALIFICATIONS HAVE BEEN OVERSTATED THE INTERVIEW WILL BE TERMINATED.  Don't round flight hours.  If you have 487 hours of PIC time that's not 500.  A 757/767 type rating is not two type ratings.  Completing military courses in the A6 and the EA-6B is not two military courses.  Having the equivalent semester hours to a Bachelor's degree is not the same as having the degree.  On the other hand, don't shortchange yourself.  On the right side of the form are several boxes, including “Multiengine” and “ATP”.  The instructions above the box state, “indicate all that are applicable."  Many times, we see a Scantron with the “AT P” box filled in, but the “Multi-engine” box left blank.  You just told the computer you have a single engine ATP, and have cost yourself hundreds, maybe thousands, of numbers. The bottom line is simple…don't misstate qualifications. It gives the interviewers two options to consider: Either the applicant intentionally misstated their qualifications to get to the interview early, or they couldn't follow instructions. Either choice is not a good way to begin the interview.

We hope this helps reduce some of the confusion surrounding the Scantron form. If there are ANY questions about proper completion of theScantron, seek advice from a member of the Flight Officer Employment team.