Tools of the trade: Q and A session with Zach Floto
In a competitive Delta Air Lines internship with more than 700 applicants fighting for three openings, Liberty student Zach Floto came out on top, earning the chance to work with one of the world’s largest airlines.
Q: How did you qualify for the internship, and how were you selected?
A: I heard about the internship while at the national flight team competition in Ohio State University two years ago. After applying online, I was called for a phone interview with the manager of the Chief Pilot Center and the Vice President of Fight Operations at Delta Air Lines.
A couple weeks later, they called me again for a web-based video interview. Two hours after the interview was finished, I got the call with the exciting news that I was selected to be one of the next interns for Delta. Three of us qualified, and after meeting my new boss, she informed us that they received over 700 applications for this position. So I definitely feel blessed to have received this opportunity and know that God had his hand in my selection.
Q: What you are doing at Delta?
A: I work for the Next Generation GPS Working Group. Their primary purpose is to assist the Federal Aviation Administration in developing RNAV (random navigation) procedures for new airports that Delta flies into, along with revising current procedures that need updating.
My job is to keep track of developing procedures and test them in the simulators. I usually fly with a simulator instructor in each type of aircraft (that) Delta has in their fleet and record performance data in the simulator as the airplane flies each new approach. It is very exciting, and the instructors always give me time at the end to practice approaches and landings.
Q: What are you learning?
A: I can’t even begin to express how much I am learning from this internship. It’s only been a few weeks, and I already have so much invaluable experience that will help me in my future career.
Currently, I have over 50 hours in the simulator and have been able to practice takeoffs, landings, approaches, low visibility operations, engine failures and much more. Additionally, I’m learning a great deal about programming the FMS (flight management system) and setting up the autopilot in each aircraft, along with using the HUD (head-up display) in the 737.
No experience compares to hand-flying the aircraft to the runway in 0/0 conditions, and still being able to make a perfect landing. The technology is amazing.
In the next couple weeks, one of the other interns and I will have to opportunity to be “test students” for a new instructor going through training. We’ve been given all the operating manuals and materials for the 757 and the 767 and will have the chance to learn how to fly aircraft from the perspective of a newly-hired pilot.
Besides the flying aspect of the job, I’ve learned many other valuable skills working in the office and talking to the other pilots. By interacting with my fellow employees, I have learned much about how an airline operates and the amount of work required to make such a large operation successful.
Q: What are some of the benefits of serving as an intern?
A: The benefits of serving an intern here at Delta are unbelievable. We have been instructed (about) how to use the aircraft simulators here in the training center, and we get free use of them whenever they are open. We have been given approval to fly on the jumpseat on any Delta flight, which has given me a firsthand look at what it is like to be an airline pilot.
Gaining access to the flight deck is a privilege that I am very grateful to have, and one that has given us interns the opportunity to travel around the world.
Besides the immediate benefits we are given as interns, we are meeting many great contacts and learning many skills that will help us in our future careers. Many of the things that we learn or have the chance to do are things most pilots will never even get to do in their careers.
Q: What are your career goals?
A: Ultimately, I want to be a captain for an international airline. Delta is a very strong company with great future in front of them, and I hope to return to this airline in the future.
Until then, I plan to work as a flight instructor until I can fly with a regional airline, most likely ExpressJet, and build my hours in order to get hired by Delta. My dream is to one day fly airline flights on the 747 or 777.