During the fall semester, 14 students went to Memphis Tennessee to take the annual tour of the FedEx Headquarters.
To anyone who has wondered what really goes into preparing aviation students for the real world, the annual tour of the aviation industry organized by the Aviation Department may be of interest.
Josh Lapray a distance education aviation student went on the trip and said he gained a new perspective.
“If I was going to be a dentist it would be really easy to shadow a dentist, but it’s harder to shadow a pilot,” Lapray said.
This tour along with extracurricular programs help aviation students understand what it takes to be the best in their future profession and get a sense of the industry.
Lapray will be graduating in April of this year and has recently finished the requirements for his commercial license. He said the trip in gave him the motivation to get it done. Since the trip, he has been able to narrow down what type of flying he wants to do after graduation since he was able to learn more about cargo pilots while on the trip.
“You never hear about cargo pilots, when you ride a commercial plane you don’t see that part so its harder to plan a job as a cargo pilot,” Lapray said. “I would prefer to fly cargo than passengers now because of the atmosphere; it’s really laid back. There is no one to complain and no one to get sick or get hurt.”
The FedEx Tour began with a briefing on the FedEx Operations in the Global Operations Command Center, where the students were given insight into what makes FedEx unique, how FedEx manages their challenges in order to improve their services, and how they continue to develop many backup strategies or plans to meet unforeseen events called the ‘Black Swan Events.’
After the briefing, the group moved on to tour the entire GOCC to receive a firsthand look at how the controlling, dispatching, and scheduling of aircrafts worldwide works.
From the GOCC the group moved on to the Maintenance Operations Command Center, where they saw the elaborate network and planning that goes into maintaining the world’s largest wide body fleet of aircraft. MOCC goes to great efforts to keeping the aging fleet operating well.
The group moved on to the Crew Scheduling Department to view their in-house created software program called FOCUS. This program allows schedulers to put pilots onto aircrafts based on their bids and trip availability according to the pilots’ seniority.
The group had the chance to go to the maintenance hangars and see how the planes are maintained. They watched inspections of the MD-11’s, Boeing 777’s and others such planes. After resting for a while, the group was allowed to go up the tower to observe the incoming planes and then to the sorting hub to see how the cargo is offloaded.
The tour of the Air Route Traffic Control Centre was the next portion of the tour. It allowed the students to understand the operations involved in the ARTCC and to join the controllers as they listened in on some of the en route aircrafts. This allowed students to see how they work together to keep the airspace safe and manage bad weather conditions during flights. The Corporate Facility was next to be toured were students were able to inspect the Learjet and Global Express.
The group found it hard to contain their excitement at the prospect of gaining a firsthand experience in the all-motion MD-11/10 simulators. Every person in the group was allowed to takeoff and land in airports of their choice and were each given some flying time to do maneuvers.
The trip finally ended with briefings from the flight safety team, who discussed what goes into shipping dangerous goods. After the safety team finished, human resources took their turn to brief the group on how their internships work and what goes into the job application or hiring process.
The five-day trip finally came to an end when the group left Memphis with the invaluable experience and exposure these students had acquired. The trip had impeccable timing for students such as Lapray who will be graduating soon. Having contacts in such high places is quite helpful to graduates.
“The information taken and the contacts made can be useful as I am applying for jobs. Guide my career path. A lot of my plans I was able to set after going on this trip,” Lapray said.
By Brian Dowuona-Hammond – News Writer