From the Hub Manager's Perspective

I recently started my new job as Ontario [KONT] Hub Manager. It didn’t take me long to settle in because I know what is expected of pilots. “How does that figure”, you might ask. So far as performing the job is concerned, that knowledge made it much easier to settle in when you pair pilot expectation with what you see on PIREPs. If I didn’t know what pilots should be doing then I would approve PIREPs that should be denied or I would probably deny PIREPs that should be approved, or in some other way make a mess of things. So what’s it like to be a Hub Manager?
Well to begin with, it’s a very responsible position to hold. It’s hard work to prepare for a flight if you do it the right way. It’s even harder work to undertake a flight, even a short flight. It takes time and dedication to sit behind that PC and fire up those engines, taxi out and then takeoff. It’s even harder when you add ATC to the mix. Sounds like I’m talking about actual piloting, right? Well as a Hub Manager you have to take all of that into consideration when you scrutinize a PIREP. You are looking at someone’s hard work and are about to make a call on it. In essence you are going to decide if the work put into flying the schedule was worth it or not. Immediately, conscience comes into play. Good judgment has to be exercised as well. Proper knowledge of Airline policies is a must.
A Hub Manager’s job is more than just approving or denying PIREPs though. He has the responsibility of seeing to it that each pilot under his oversight performs to the best of their ability. How does he do that? He encourages them when they perform well. He encourages them when they can perform better. He encourages them to keep on doing well. That’s a whole lot of encouragement. And if you think it stops there, what about when a pilot needs assistance in one or more areas of developing his skill? The Hub Manager has that responsibility as well. After a while you get a feel for each pilot and his/her skill level and you look at each PIREP on that merit. For example, if I were looking at Sean Mullineaux’s PIREP and saw that he flew his approach at 270kts, I’d smile and say, “Ah, that’s Sean” and then click ‘Approve’. If I were looking at a PIREP from William Hogarth and saw that, I would send him a note and still click ‘Approve’.
It’s a little difficult to not have personal feelings about the job and how pilots perform but as much as possible I try to go by the policies that govern the operation of the Airline. Although at times, a little bit of personal feelings in the mix helps spice things up a bit and you are better able to deliver that personal touch and get you pilots to feel ‘real’ about their flights and have more fun. I decided to do two parts to discussing what it’s like to be a Hub Manager. In my next post I’ll show you a little of what goes on in the Hub Manager’s portal. That ought to be interesting if you ever wondered what we see when we look at PIREPs. Until then, blue skies.