[UPAS Logo]  Universal Pilot Application Service, Inc.
January 1997

UPAS Takes Off
The online service for job-seeking pilots continues to grow.

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.

Benefits for carriers
UPAS is an online database for job seeking pilots; but for both companies and pilots, the service extends far beyond maintaining a list of pilots looking for jobs. “It’s a complete package, a valuable tool that helps companies gain access to a tremendous pool of qualified applicants at a fraction of the cost it would take an airline to maintain the same size pool through traditional means,” Tarver says.

Capt. Jim Elkan of TWA’s pilot recruitment department and member of the UPAS Board of Directors has worked with UPAS from the beginning. “The biggest advantage with UPAS is the amount of time we save, especially in doing routine tasks,” he says.

“Every week we download a list of applicants who meet our minimum qualifications,” Capt. Elkan explains. “So we start the process with only the candidates who we know meet our criteria, and this allows us more time to focus on our candidates’ other qualities. It also saves us from having to keep paper copies of 7,000 resumes and 4,000 applications on file.”

UPAS generates routine letters and other correspondence, while its sophisticated computer software tracks candidates as they are interviewed and hired. UPAS can also generate statistics and track trends among job seeking pilots.

Capt. Elkan says, “UPAS answers a lot of ‘what ifs,’ such as, ‘What if we change our minimum qualifications to look for 2,000 hours turbojet time?’ UPAS tells us how many pilots out there would be able to meet specific requirements.”

Another aspect of UPAS’s complete package for company subscribers is that the system can be modified to meet the different needs of each. “We at TWA didn’t have to adjust the way we work to accommodate the system,” Capt Elkan said. Instead, thanks to Henderson’s computer expertise, the system has always been adjusted to accommodate us,” he adds.

Tarver stresses that UPAS is exclusively a database of pilot qualifications. “The system does not recommend specific pilots or interfere with the selection programs of any subscribing airline,” Tarver says.

Capt Elkan says that UPAS is absolutely unbiased. “UPAS just provides the names of people who meet the qualifications as determined by TWA. Nothing is screened, nothing is filtered, and no one is given a preference.”

Benefits for pilots
UPAS also offers benefits to the pilots in its database. Tarver explains that specific benefits include the following:
  • Pilots save time and money, because they do not need to complete applications and pay application fees to multiple employers. With UPAS, a single Qualifications Summary Form, which will be seen by several potential employers, and a one-time fee, allows pilots to remain active in the database for as long as they update their records or call to extend within a 2-year period.

  • With UPAS, pilots may double-check all information submitted to companies, reducing their chance of error.

  • Pilots can update credentials as often as necessary, either on disk or on paper, so that employers have access to current qualification information.

  • Pilots can present to employers more comprehensive qualification information than they are able to put on most generic applications.

Getting on line
Tarver says that a project such as UPAS is not established overnight. “The only way anyone benefits from UPAS,” Tarver says, “is if is has the largest number of candidates available for employers, which in turn, opens more opportunities for everyone.”

“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.”